First Posted on Mill Valley Patch February 5, 2012 at 5:58 am
First some nostalgia - Sweetwater is back and our beloved Masonic Hall (at least a portion of it) has been remodeled, recreated and is now in full swing! The Masonic was built in 1903 and served as a lodge for the Masons of Mill Valley, which my Dad, George Wickham, was part of many years ago. This is a piece of Mill Valley’s history and real estate. Refurbishing and renovating some of our downtown buildings without taking away from original facades is essential to the essence and home town feel that is loved by all who live in and visit our town. Good job to all who made this happen! Thank You!
Traditionally, the Spring selling season opens for business right after today's Super Bowl. Why is that? The holiday recovery is over, kids are back in school and life returns to a more normal pace.
As I show property in February, buyers begin coming out of the city with a focus on Mill Valley and/or Southern Marin. This is mainly due to the proximity of the city where most work. If they do not find the perfect house in Mill Valley, they tend to move up the corridor into Corte Madera or Larkspur. Many of these young couples have a small child or are planning to have children within the next few years. Since Mill Valley is family centric, it is a good starting point. They move here from the city for schools and access to Mt. Tam and its trails for hiking and biking. Many of them tell me they come to Mill Valley on weekends to hike, bike and enjoy our village-like downtown.
They are also very focused on having a property that is ready to move into. Most do not have the extra money to buy and fix-up. Sellers should make sure their home has fresh paint, new carpets, redone floors, possibly new appliances and an inviting yard with some level area. Think model home and staging!
The Mill Valley buyers' demographic is fairly consistent: Between 32 -45, working in the city, athletic, concerned about lifestyle for their young families or soon to be young families. They begin their house hunting online either on Redfin, Zillow or Trulia. Once they hook up with an agent, they gain access to more informative websites.
While location is still top of mind for most buyers, I have found that when a home is pleasing to the eye and well-priced, it captures the highest and best price.
There are lots of buyers who are cautious about paying too much. They will pay more for a home that is remodeled or in tip-top shape. First impressions are very
With that said, for buyers, go to Sunday Opens and interview agents. Ask friends for referrals. Hook up with a good agent sooner than later. They are very helpful
to the whole process; from getting pre-approved, to knowing the inventory, to
whether a home is priced correctly or not, and most importantly in negotiating
on your behalf.
Sellers should understand that all homes sell in a price range. Listen to your agent when pricing your property. If your agent is not well versed in a certain area, get several opinions. But do not choose an agent on pricing alone. Many agents will price high to obtain the listing and hope the seller will come down in price later. Not a good tactic. The more time on the market, the more price
reductions and you lose your opportunity for capturing the highest and best price.
Some good questions to ask an agent you’re considering to have represent your home:
The Nature of the Agent’s Business
- How long have you been in the business?
- Do you work full time?
- Do you work primarily with buyers or sellers?
- Do you have a full time assistant or buyer’s agent?
- Do you belong to any agent networking groups?
- Do you network in San Francisco?
- What are your best skill and worst skill you bring to your business?
Agent Sales Activity
- What area(s) do you sell the most homes in?
- How many homes have you sold in the last year?
- What is the average price of the homes you have sold?
- Which homes have you listed and sold in the last six months?
- What homes have you listed in the last six months that either did not sell, or had multiple price reductions? Why?
- Can you provide the names and phone numbers of recent clients?
- How many listings do you currently have?
Determining Market Value/Listing Price
- How do you determine price and what does your process entail?
- How do you know this will be the correct price?
- What is the current market trend in the area and specifically my neighborhood?
- What is the range homes are selling at in comparison to their asking prices?
- What percent of your listings sell for the listing price or above?
- What is the minimum listing period you would accept?
- What is your commission and how does the “split” work?
Representing and Marketing your home
- Where will you market my home?
- Can you provide a specific marketing plan?
- How do you typically find potential buyers?
- Who do you think the buyer for my home is?
Here is to a good buying and selling season! Even though the front page news of the IJ was not great- prices down, sales up, buyers are out there, the inventory is low and sellers need to get ready.