How to Make the Winning Bid in This Competitive Market

In this seller’s market, buyer’s are getting tired of being outbid on homes. I completely understand how frustrating and discouraging it can be, but never give up too soon. I like to tell my buyers that everything happens for a reason and that they will end up in the best suited home for them.

I recently read an article that was in the Sunday newspaper a few weeks ago called “Secrets to Making the Winning Bid”. Below are some of the main points covered in the article:

1. Be ready to make your offer quickly.

When you find the perfect house, you have to know it is the one and be ready to act on it.

2. Make your best offer first.

In this market, I like to tell my clients to go in with their strongest offer from the beginning if they really want the house. There is no guarantee that a buyer will receive a counter offer since your offer is most likely one of a few or several offers.

3. Keep your offer simple and accommodating.

I have seen many sellers ask for free occupancy after the sale, anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Giving the seller a free rent back will help your chances of getting your offer accepted. In this market, many sellers fear they won’t be able to find a new home to move into by the time escrow closes. No one wants to worry they could be homeless!

4. Write a note to the seller.

This adds a personal touch to the offer and allows you to tell the sellers a little about yourselves and why you fell in love with their home. This note can sometimes win over the sellers. I have represented sellers that have chosen an offer that wasn’t as strong as another offer they received, but accepted the lower offer based on the connection they had with the buyers.  I can’t guarantee this works all the time, but it doesn’t hurt!

I hope this post gives you the confidence to continue searching for your perfect home. If you are looking to buy a home and would like my help, please contact me. I would love to assist you in your home search.

“Making your dreams a reality, one move at a time.”

Suzanne O’Brien

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Will the Drought Effect Home Prices?

I get asked this question a lot regarding the effects of the drought on home prices. According to Alain Pinel, the general manager of Intero Prestigio International, the drought won’t effect home prices in the near future, but no one can predict 100% accurately what our winter will look like in 6 months and where home prices will go in a year. We can only hope the rain will come! It is raining outside as I type this blog post. Yay! Every drop counts.

Click on the link below to be directed to Alain Pinel’s article “How Green Was My Valley”. This article is on Alain’s opinion on what the future holds for California’s residential real estate market and home landscaping.

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The Last 40 Years of Mortgage Rates- What Does the Future Have in Store?

When I bought my first house I think our rate was 14%. It was high, but all we wanted to do was buy a house of our own. While home prices have increased dramatically, first time home buyers are very fortunate to offset that with the current rates. Could you imagine what it would be like to pay $1,000,000 plus have an interest rate of 14%? It would be crazy!

Taken from Keeping Current Matters

Taken from Keeping Current Matters

For any present or future buyers, it is good to be aware of the projected mortgage rates. Below are a few main points that were taken from Keeping Current Matters Blog Post:

  • 30-year mortgage rates are projected to increase by a full percentage point in 2016
  • Rates are still well below the past four decade averages
  • The interest rate at which you borrow the funds to purchase your dream home makes a huge difference on your monthly payment
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What the Drought Means for Our Water Usage

This Monday, May 11, Cal Water hosted a public meeting in Los Altos to discuss the drought and what it means for our water usage.

Although the news is not what anyone wants to hear, it is important that everyone is aware of the new water restrictions.

The rules are laid out in Rule 14.1 which they have requested and expect approval by May 28 with implementation by June 1. You can read the full text of the rules at their website:

I have more detailed information from a 3rd party that attended the meeting and will publish as soon as I get permission to do so.

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Buyers Beware: Change to happen August 1st

Come August, buying a home will require a longer turnaround time than it has previously  in the Bay Area. On August 1st, day 1 of Q4, the Dodd Frank Laws in Lending will be implemented. These laws will only apply to individuals who are taking out a loan to purchase their new home.

For both buyers and sellers, this means that the era of common 14-20 day closings will come to an end. The banks will now need anywhere from 15-30 days added to the closing date of the transaction.

Why such a long time addition to the transaction? Once in contract, there is typically material changes that need be made. Every time something is changed, there will be a 3 day freeze on the transaction. AKA your closing date will be pushed back 3 days from what you initially had estimated it to be.

I hope this information was useful to you. If you have any questions about buying a home, or are thinking you want to buy now before August 1st so you can close quicker, please contact me!

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A New Housing Trend Like Nothing Seen Before

This month, “The Residential Specialist” magazine had it’s yearly Green Issue that covered a topic I have been hearing a lot about lately from my kids- The so called phenomenon of Tiny Homes. They are what the author calls a “real social movement.”

What is a Tiny Home?

Tiny Homes “come in a variety of shapes, sizes and designs, but what they have in common is a focus on smaller spaces and simpler lifestyles”

What are some benefits to owning a Tiny Home?

#1 They let homeowners reduce their carbon footprints.

#2 Home-related expenses such as utilities and maintenance are reduced.

#3 Great for individuals that want a simpler lifestyle.

#4 For young people that are struggling financially

#5 You aren’t paying property taxes because they are so small.

How much will a Tiny Home cost me and where can I live in my Tiny House?

Tiny homes typically range from about $20,000 to $60,000. Fortunately, they are highly mobile and many are built on wheels. Others that are not built on wheels can be easily placed on a trailer or moved to a parent’s backyard, for instance.

If Tiny Homes interest you, and you want to see/learn more, there is a TV show called “Tiny House Nation”.

Pretty cool concept. Don’t you think?
Please “LIKE” my Facebook Page to read more fun blogs like this one! 🙂

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Renovate Your Landscaping to Benefit You and the Environment!

Need something to do over the weekends? How about improving your landscape? With the warm weather and spring time here, it is the perfect time for you to fix up your landscaping… and make it more drought friendly!

Did you know that a 5% investment in the landscaping of your property can increase its value by as much as 15%? Additionally, great landscaping may reduce the amount of time a home stays on the market by nearly six weeks. Even if you are not planning to move any time soon, spring is a great time to spruce up your landscape and make it a place where you enjoy spending time!

When making decisions about what to plant in your yard and garden, it is very important to choose plants that do not require a lot of water! With the drought being more impactful this year than ever, we need to do our best to conserve the water we have left. These links are to articles I found beneficial that include some great landscaping/plant ideas that are fairly water resistant and that grow well in the Bay Area climate. 


If you are looking to plant vegetables, the article listed below suggests you plant in the spring. This article is also a bit older but still has many helpful tips in growing your garden during the drought. 


I hope you found this information useful! If you are thinking about selling and are in need of some landscaping renovations before going on the market, I will gladly help you out! I recently renovated my front yard to be more water resistant. Gardening is one of my favorite hobbies 🙂

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Controversial New Standard for Development Projects in Los Altos

On March 24, the Los Altos City Council voted 3-2 in favor of demanding story poles for all multifamily, commercial, and mixed-use projects.

What is a story pole you may ask? It is a way for residents to size up development projects. It is simply posts capped with orange netting – to display their projects’ size, scale and mass during the design review process.

As stated in the Los Altos Town Crier’s article “New standard mandates story poles for large developments”, adding story poles is a process that comes with an added cost to developers, up to $10,000 for a commercial building.

According to Jean Mordo, a Los Altos council member in favor of story poles, he believes “The story poles do something that the plans and the drawings and the computer do not do.” “If you see the story poles, you say, ‘Oh my God, what is going on here?’”

To read more, click on the link to be directed to the article: New standard mandates story poles for larger developments

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A Forecast of California’s Market and Economy for 2015

A few weeks ago, Carole Rodoni’s spoke to my Intero office in Los Altos. For those of you who don’t know who Carole is, she is an extremely renowned speaker on the economy and real estate in the Bay Area.

At the beginning of her speech, she provided everyone with a printed powerpoint presentation of 2015’s real estate forecast. I found the statistics and predictions very informative and the predictions to be reputable, so I thought it is only fair to share them with my readers. I extracted 15 pages out of the 130 pages in the powerpoint called “2015 California Economic and Market Forecast” written by Leslie Appleton-Young, Vice President and Chief Economist of California Association of Realtors (CAR).

Please click on the link for the presentation: 2015 California Economic & Market Forecast

I hope this information was beneficial to you! If you have any real estate questions or are thinking about buying or selling, please contact me! I would love to help.

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What to Expect in 2015- A Recap of Carole Rodoni’s Presentation on Bay Area Real Estate

On Thursday, February 5th I was fortunate enough to sit in on a presentation by Carole Rodoni. Carole is a renowned speaker on the economy and real estate from the Bay Area. Her past impressive employment includes being the President of Fox and Carskadon Real Estate, the Chief Operating Officer of Cornish and Carey Real Estate, and the President of Alain Pinel Realtors. Not to mention, she has been a guest columnist for the San Francisco Examiner and has appeared as a guest speaker on TV and radio across the Bay Area.

I want to share with you some high level points that Rodoni expressed about the Bay Area real estate market during her presentation and what we should expect to see in 2015. She spoke quickly, so I may have missed a few details here and there.

The Silicon Valley Real Estate Market

In 2015, Rodoni expects inventory to stay low and “mirror” the 2014 market. She also predicts cities to continue to be more flexible with allowing more building of apartments and condos. (We need this to help fulfill the high demand!) A prime example of this is a new development project in San Francisco called “Summit 800” off of Brotherhood Way. The city had owned this piece of land forever and finally sold it to a developer. To view this development, click on the link:

Rodoni also mentioned that this year the lower end areas are absolutely on fire with double-digit appreciation! Just a few of the areas include: East Palo Alto, East Menlo Park, Shoreview, Daly City, and South San Francisco.

“The Year of the East Bay” -Carole Rodoni

At the end of Rodoni’s presentation, she brought up the idea of “The Year of the East Bay”. What she meant by this is that she expects East Bay to come back in full force. She explained how the East Bay economy went down and has taken them a lot longer to come back, but it is happening in 2015. She thinks that affordability, manufacturing and construction are coming back to America and that the East Bay is experiencing this growth. She called it a “very hot spot”. The cities she mentioned included: Union City, Fremont, Newark, etc. Thinking about buying an investment property? Rodoni suggested investors may see good returns in the valley. Due to affordability, companies are expanding to places like Manteca, where Amazon is building a new fulfillment center and Lathrop/Ripon area, where Tesla is expanding their manufacturing.

I hope you enjoyed reading my summary of Carole Rodoni’s presentation on what to expect in 2015. I highly recommend watching/listening to her speak. If you want to read more articles like this one, like my Facebook Page! Click link to view: Suzanne O’Brien Real Estate

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