What Goes Up….




So a few weeks ago I noticed a Realtor friend of mine on Facebook was touting the wild, overbidding experience she had just had selling a house she had listed. One of her friends commented “I can’t stand it…I’ll NEVER be able to buy a place around here”. My friend replied, “Don’t worry, what goes up must come down.” That sounded encouraging and sweet to me, but I think it’s simply not true at all. If there’s one thing I’ve learned repeatedly in the last 25 or so years doing this it’s that the Real Estate market isn’t a Yo-Yo. It absolutely does NOT rise and fall, and rise and fall. I’m sure most of you have seen the graphics on the market’s history around here. It looks a lot like the face of Mt. Everest. It’s about 95% uphill grade, moderated by some slight dips and a few plateaus. That’s over the last 30 or 40 years too. A Yo-Yo it aint.

On September 6 2006 I got this email from a sweet young woman who I’ll call Joanie. She wrote this

“I am beginning to explore the idea of buying my first home and am very new to the process. I browsed your website and found plenty of useful information.

Would you have time to meet with me and discuss further?”

I discovered that she was qualified to $700,000 and we began looking at places. Houses I might add. Houses in nice neighborhoods. The 2006 market was pretty crazy and overbids were common…she was uncomfortable in that environment. She decided to wait…hopefully it would cool off. Guess what…it did. In late 2008. When everybody started to come out of hiding in 2009 so did Joanie. The problem then was…would the market ever REALLY come back? Those 2006 prices were just an illusion anyway and certainly if she continued to wait they would come down even more.

Then in 2011 she came back again but discovered that the nice neighborhood’s she saw in 2006 were not available in her price range anymore. The market was back to competition again and overbids were common. Of course, she was picky too. If the paint color wasn’t right or, God forbid, there was some dry rot disclosed on the pest report…then forget it! She simply wasn’t going to assume somebody else’s problem!

2014 came and she could afford some more…up to $850,000 now. The problem was…she had to look at townhouses since she was WAY priced out of the neighborhood’s she liked before. She was priced out of the mid range neighborhood’s she didn’t like in 2006 but compromised over in 2011. An amazing thing happened though last June…she actually wrote an offer! Her first. We finished 4th out of 5…but it was a start. Right? We continued to look…right up to January of this year. She probably needs to be looking in San Jose or Fremont now…unless she wants a condo around here. The problem is…she’ll need to compete to get that as well. In either place. I personally don’t think she’ll ever buy anything. In my opinion she’s lost at least $300,000 as a result of her timidity. Probably more. Not to mention the tax benefits she DIDN’T get by remaining a renter these last 8 years.

I really think this is a train that you either get on…or remain standing at the station while others get on. The equity that people have earned simply by getting on is impossible to duplicate in any other way. The market will moderate for sure…but it’s not coming back to 2009 levels ever again.


Blogging is really kind of a wild thing. I’ve been doing this for 5 years now…seems like I just started yesterday too. Most of the time I love it. Some of the time it’s a real pain in the butt. It gets hard when we go on a vacation because it’s like having a dog or something, it has to be cared for when we’re away. It needs to be fed…sort of. What really needs to happen is that posts need to be written and to tell you the truth I sure as heck don’t have time to write a bunch of extra posts. Honestly, the whole process is sort of a stream of consciousness kind of exercise anyway for me. I used to make an attempt at writing about local new and stuff around town but I think the Patch does it better as does Alexa over at The Lagoonian so I threw in the towel. I know real estate so I keep it to that.

Of course the problem with that is there’s only so many posts about the wildly poor level of inventory that anybody can write. There’s so few houses that come up it’s not even worth mentioning them or displaying them. Look! A St Tropez came up on Hatteras! Oh, boy! It also doesn’t help that I’ve been as busy as I’ve ever been this year and that really distracts from writing. Once you start one of these things you’re really sort of a slave to it. The best part about it though is that it’s actually fun to do. It’s sort of like therapy. I get to dump a lot about stuff…and that actually does me a lot of good. So thanks for listening. Also, thanks for not charging me for listening!

Random Real Estate

Just some random thoughts from the last few days;


One of my agent friends gets 10 offers on a listing of hers in San Mateo. All of them wildly good and it ends up selling for $202,000 over asking. She also gets a verbal offer from a guy. She tells him she needs the offers in writing. He says he knows all about real estate and, in fact, doesn’t need to write an offer…a verbal is perfectly fine. His verbal offer is at the asking price and he informs my friend that the house is overpriced at asking and anybody would be crazy to offer more. Apparently there were 10 groups of people that need to be locked up. I have one word that I think perfectly describes this particular buyer….IDIOT.

I’m chatting with a hardwood floor guy I know who tells me about a job that he did on a listing that was in escrow where the seller decided a week prior to closing that he wasn’t going to pay the commission he’s agreed to on his contract. He wanted to renegotiate or he wouldn’t sign. The commission amount is published in the MLS. Holding a transaction hostage over an agreed upon commission is , how shall I put it…kind of skanky. I have a word that I think perfectly describes this particular seller…but I won’t publish it. It is sort of like the one above, but more profane.

A property inspector I work with told me a story about some folks who lost out on a house in the multiple offer environment who found out which buyers actually finished first…and offered them $100,000 to back out of that deal in favor of them. Amazing, huh? What would you do?

As always happens, holding an open house is an amazing experience. You hear the darndest things. While I’m standing in the living room of my listing in San Carlos, a lady points to the front sliding glass door and asks “Is that a window?” How do you answer that? “No, it’s a door”. I say. I’m not sure where some of these questions come from? I honestly think telling the difference between a laminate floor like Pergo and hardwood couldn’t be more obvious…but I’m wrong. I frequently have people ask me if Pergo is hardwood. To me it’s like asking if the concrete sidewalk is hardwood. Sorry if I sound like a jerk.

I also think a new roof is incredibly obvious vs an old one…but people always ask that too. Usually the old roof is clear…but new ones look just as obvious to me. Others can’t tell the difference.

Anyway…I’m rambling. Randomness!

What is Foreign?

A couple of years ago I went to Seoul, Korea for the first time and absolutely loved it. It’s combination of history and incredible modernity was simply amazing and I was anxious to go back. Well, we did indeed and this time we took my niece Emma for her first big adventure. We travel a fair amount and over the years we’ve had our share of experiences as well as obstacles in foreign countries but in Seoul we had an experience that was completely unforgettable.

En route to tour the amazing Gyeongbuk Palace Emma didn’t feel well on the subway train. She asked to get off, which we did and she immediately took ill and collapsed onto the floor of the station platform. We were instantly surrounded by kind and loving people who sincerely offered assistance. A little old lady helped me get Emma up and seated. She also got her some water and helped her drink. A young man called 911 (actually 119 in Korea) and everyone spoke to us with tenderness and compassion. Nobody could speak English! The subway worker, 2 police officers and 2 EMT’s came…none of them spoke English either but all showed enormous courtesy. She was taken to a hospital in an ambulance where treatment was equally wonderful. Even there, only one doctor and another liaison person spoke fluently.

What could have been a very frightening thing turned into a beautiful one. We felt perfectly safe the whole time, how wonderful was that? They did several tests on Emma and she was fine. It was simply a combination of humidity, jet lag and the rush hour commuting that elevated stress levels. We finished our trip and had a simply fantastic time. What a great lesson for her! That no matter what our preconceptions about a “foreign” country, people are so much alike. The things that we all share in common are so much greater than the differences we have.

Oh, and guess what else. The bill for the services that included the ambulance and an EKG…$41.00. Imagine what it would have been here!

Bad Home Inspection Pics

Many of you have seen the Bad MLS photos that I post here from time to time. They’re hilarious! There’s a link down there below so you can see them. Today in the San Francisco Chronicle online there’s a story about bad home inspection photos. Equally hilarious! I was unable to copy them onto this blog, but it’s worth hitting that link below to see some of these! A great many of these are the product of some sellers do-it-yourself projects. How about the electrical outlet placed inside the stall shower! Or the door that’s cut to allow it to be closed through a toilet. These are some really great pics…but the story accurately discusses just how much DIY was in play in the last few years since homeowners endevoured to save some money. It’s actually extreamely rare around here to see a home listed without inspections, but I agree that it would be truly crazy to buy a home without one. Anyway, hit that like below for some fun:



OK, I really do like Thanksgiving. I love that Turkey, which we really don’t have more than a few times a year and it’s a great treat. I suspect lots of you are of the same mind set as I am here, huh? Thanksgiving is actually a wonderful holiday. I like the big family get together, I like football on most of the day, I like the interaction all of us have whether we’re at our house or somebody elses. I like that fact there isn’t this great big huge lead in to Thanksgiving. Christmas lights and shopping are all over us since Halloween, yet Thanksgiving sort of just arrives in the midst of it. I have to say Friday will not be one of my favorite days. I just can’t imagine lining up to go shopping early Friday since I’ll still be in a sort of food coma.

The best thing about Thanksgiving is that it gives me a minute to reflect on the multitude of things that I’m really, sincerely thankful for. There’s a bunch! Here’s a few that leap to mind right now in no particular order:

* I’m thankful for a wife and daughters who love me and who I love deeply

* I’m thankful for being fortunate enough to live in a wonderful home in one of the greatest areas in the world

* I’m thankful for the many clients that have trusted me and have allowed me to build a successful business

* I’m thankful to have wonderful friends and coworkers that I trust

* I’m thankful for each and every one of you who read this blog

* I’m thankful for the San Francisco Giants who’ve taken us on such a fantastic ride for the last few years

Of course, there’s tons more! I could actually go on for hours if I wanted to. I’ll be if we thought about it most of us could. I have a friend with terminal pancreatic cancer who posts on a Caring Bridge blog site. His posts are always filled with gratitude and thanksgiving. I’m thankful to him for giving me perspective. My complaints sure seem small in comparison. I hope you all have a wonderful day tomorrow and a great weekend! See you again this Monday.

Today’s The Day

Well it’s finally here. Doesn’t it seem like this campaign started just about the time the Giants won the World Series? In 2010? Two Billion Dollars spent by both candidates bringing us to this point…too bad about 90% of that didn’t go toward deficit reduction instead. I guess I’m amazed at several things about this election  but maybe the biggest thing is the twitterization of how folks (me included) now see everything. Seems like everybody’s opinion is a sound bite, a tweet. I don’t really hear that much substantial, thoughtful commentary about this election and I REALLY hate the Facebook posts some of my “friends” put up. Obama’s the most evil person on Earth for not personally saving the Libyan Ambassador’s life. Obama personally chose to abandon him? Sort of like George W Bush was personally responsible for Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath. If Romney’s elected, senior citizens will all collectively be separated from Medicare and/or be thrown into the street. That kind of thing. I guess I really think that both Romney and Obama are honorable men who love their families and their country yet have differing positions on what’s best for our futures. I really don’t think either none of them have evil intentions.

I had a client who was about to write an offer on a house in Foster City a week or so ago who asked me if it was my opinion that the real estate market would collapse if Obama was re-elected. That’s what he’d heard from folks at work. Me thinks not. The 2012 market did, after all, get hot while Obama was President. It’s also funny to me how folks on both sides seem to often have overlapping philosophy’s that are contradictions. We had a nice night with friends on Saturday who are staunch conservatives and their whole argument was that government would only cause problems, was a drag on productivity and the smallest possible government certainly would be best. They were appalled by the deficit and strongly advocated a basic Tea Party perspective on taxes and governments role. A while later we were talking about our kids and it came out that their troubled 15 year son has been sent to a closed boy’s school in Utah following a couple of run ins with the law and drug use. The cost of the school…$8500.00 a month. “Wow, how can you afford that?” we asked. “Oh, it’s paid for by the county.” they said. I guess discomfort with government has some limits?

I don’t know, I guess I just wish we could all have some more objectivity when talking about the candidates. We all seem to be alot like baseball fans talking about our teams. We’re always right and they’re always wrong. I have a cousin who’s a Dodger fan and she steadfastly refuses to acknowledge ANY Dodger weakness..when we all know that they’re glaring! the Giants on the other hand are flawless. Isn’t that obvious to everybody?


I’m not sure why exactly, but I’ve never been an Elvis fan. He never moved me, maybe it’s because he was a tad before my time. Maybe it’s just because of the enormous amount of hype that follows Elvis image. Whatever, we’ve been visiting family in Memphis for years and I’ve avoided the big Graceland tour every time because I figured it just wasn’t for me. I think we’ve hit every other museum and tourist attraction in the area too…but not Graceland. Until today that is. Unbeknownst to us, this week is the 35th anniversary of Elvis death. Today, is actually the date. When we arrived I got on  a rental car shuttle van along with a gentleman from Germany and the gal who was driving said; “So, y’all in town for Elvis or just business?” I chuckled since I thought she was joking. The German guy said “Elfas!” She then begin describing all the foreign Elvis tourists she’d been driving all week. Stupid me…I said, “Is there some kind of Elvis event in town?” The German guy looked at me with barely veiled contempt and the driver said; “What? You don’t know this is Elvis week and it’s the big 35th Anniversary?” Mr. social faux pas…that’s me.

For the next few days it seemed like everywhere we went we saw Elvises. I actually saw an Asian Elvis! So many black hair dye jobs and long sideburns you woundn’t believe it. On top of that, so many older women with Elvis tattoos! It’s a freakin’ cult! Well…we got caught up in it. Heck, the Today show on NBC did a story about it this morning! So we bought tickets and went to Graceland this morning. You know what? It was a BLAST! Cult or not…Elvis was amazing! So was Graceland. We spent hours wandering around the house, the grounds, the miles of gold records and awards, the incredible automobile collection, the custom airplanes, the enormous number of European tourists…many of whom were trying their best to look like Elvis! OMG…the shops there selling everything you can imagine! Elvis bought Graceland in the 50’s for $100,000. I’ll be just one gift shop alone took in $100,000 while we were there! We saw a leather jacket for sale for $3500.00. Replica’s of those kooky rhinestone suits Elvis wore in the 70’s were available for purchase for $1975.00. The funny thing is that after 3 or 4 hours we were beginning to get hooked! Even Lesley started contemplating large purchases…and she was less interested in Elvis than me going in.

It was a great time, honest. If you’re in Memphis don’t miss it.

A Different Perspective

We, I at least, get swayed by the prices, values and energy that exists around our area and forget that we’re simply a small part of a bigger world. Every few years we go back to visit family in Tennessee…specifically Munford, TN which is about 35 miles north of Memphis. The place boggles my mind for several reasons. First of all is SO friendly here it’s almost oft putting! It takes me a few days to get used to it…and then I’m sort of ashamed for being SUCH a Californian. Everywhere I go people are just gushing and helpful. Genuinely too! Then there’s the prices here. Yesterday I bought 2 bottles of water and a bag of peanuts at Munford’s little grocery store, the bill?….$1.51. The bottled waters were .20 apiece! That, of course, brings us to the subject of houses. See that place in the picture up there? It’s a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house that I’m guessing to be about 1750 sq ft on an acre that’s listed for $114,000. Sort of about the same size house as Rumana Jabeen’s new listing at 208 Killdeer in Foster City that’s listed for $888,000. Much smaller lot in FC though.

Also yesterday, I went with my wife, our girls and Lesley’s aunt to get mani/pedi’s. Yes…I got one too! It was actually kind of nice experience. Anyway, the young Vietnamese immigrant who owns the nail salon had just made an offer on a 1560 sq ft house on 11 acres that’s a foreclosure listed for $76,000. He had offered $70,000. While he was doing my daughters nails he got a call from his agent who told him the bank was countering him at $75,000. he wrestled with it a minute and told the agent to counter him back at $72,000. All this while painting a little daisy on Christina’s pinky. I had outed myself as a realtor before this phone call and when he got off he ask’s me “What do you think?” “I should hold out, huh?” What do I know about Munford real estate? We chatted awhile about it and finally I told him that I didn’t think it was worth it to lose a deal like this over a couple of thousand dollars. Who  cares if he gets it for $75,000 or $72,000? A house on 11 acres at either price blows my mind!

I ended up telling him that I’ve seen many clients who’ve made the deal more important that the house…and that’s a mistake. It’s the house that will make you money. If a couple of thousand dollars makes a difference in the long-term investment value of a property then why buy it? Never the less…imagine paying $75,000 for a house of any kind? Amazing!

Today we’re eating more BBQ, Going to Sun Records, and the Civil Rights Museum. On Thursday we’re going to Graceland. Maybe before we leave I’ll get another pedicure! I liked that foot massage!


Incredibly I got to go tonight. As intense as a World Series game. WOW!