Selling Your Home

Selling your home: Where to begin?

If you are like most people, you want to sell your Silicon Valley home (or other real estate):

  1. Quickly
  2. At a high profit
  3. At a reasonable cost
  4. With minimal stress

An extremely important factor in determining whether or not you attain your goals comes down to the guidance and service you get when you hire a real estate professional to assist you. So on this page, I’ll discuss hiring a great Silicon Valley real estate agent (hopefully a REALTOR(R) and my seller services. As a home seller you will have many questions, and I will do my best to answer them.

The Challenge Of Choosing An Excellent Silicon Valley Real Estate Agent

It is not easy to select a great real estate professional. Why not? First of all, there are too many of them! In Sacramento, there are about an even number of agents and listings. Here, in the greater San Jose area, there are almost five times as many agents as homes for sale! In Los Gatos, there are only 30,000 people (18,000 licensed voters) but 800 Realtors. It is a saturated field, especially in Silicon Valley. It is very easy to get licensed, but much harder to make it a successful career.

So the biggest problem I am seeing in the Silicon Valley real estate market today is that when sellers do not ask enough questions, they hire fast-talking real estate agents who are new and inexperienced, (or they hire someone “cheap” but not necessarily “good”) and then they end up with an unhappy experience. Too often, the new agent or one who has not sold much recently is “cheap”. (In 2006 it is said that 39% of all real estate professionals in Santa Clara County sold NO homes. Of course they will discount their commission – they are desperate to sell. But will they be able to sell your home? And if so, will it be at the highest price?) The seller then hires based on perceived cost (a low commission rate) rather than VALUE (getting something for your money). I have frequently seen “discounted” commissions on overpriced listings that never sell at all. What kind of bargain is that? And those that do sell may be riddled with problems due to the inexperience of the agent.

Don’t just settle for any agent. We have 10,000 real estate licensees in our Silicon Valley or San Jose area now. About 1/3 of them are “new”, having fled the high tech world and perhaps not committed to this work as a career (many will be out of this career within 2 years). Not all of them are even Realtors who subscribe to a code of ethics.

You can find out how long someone’s been licensed by checking the California Department of Real Estate’s website at California Department of Real Estate’s website.

Now, once you are past the “do you know what you are doing?” stage (whether by lack of time in the field or lack of skill), you need help differentiating the other 6500 real estate agents who want your business in Los Gatos, Saratoga, Campbell, Almaden, Cambrian Park, or anywhere else in the valley.

The next question should be, “Are you a REALTOR” or just a California real estate licensee? Check the local realty boards, either the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors or the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors(I am a member of SILVAR), to see if that person is a Realtor or not. Realtors are professionals who (almost always) do this work full time, they are committed to a code of ethics (above and beyond what is required by the law) and they take their work seriously. Should you have a problem with a real estate licensee, it is a LOT easier to get help from a Board of Realtors than it is from the state. So make doubly sure that your real estate professional is a REALTOR!

Choosing Between Experienced Agents

So you have decided to narrow it to Realtors who’ve been in the business for at least a few years and those who have a proven track record. You have the top third that you’re considering. Now how do you refine it further?

Well, it helps a lot to get names by referral. If your friends and relatives and neighbors have had a good experience, chances are that you will, too. Always ask for references – and then check them! And please make sure that the agent is close enough to service your listing too – an agent who is an hour away is too far to handle the “little but urgent” things that inevitably come up.

Then ask how the agent works….

Some Realtors are lone practioners (plusses are that you will not be handed off to a young assistant, minuses that you may not be able to get your agent as fast as you might get an assistant – which do you prefer?). Others are part of a team. (Some teams are HUGE and the jobs are parsed to segments of the transaction – you may get handed off from one person to the next as you go through the stages of the listing, sale, escrow, and closing.) So ask about things like who covers when the Realtor is on vacation, what the lag time is in responding to emails and voice mails, etc. Some of the mega-agents control most of their own business but are SO busy that they may not get back to you for as many as 8 – 10 hours during the work week, or longer on weekends. Make sure you understand what to expect and if you can live with it!

At this time I am a lone practitioner with an escrow coordinator and a virtual assistant who assists me with some of my online marketing. My clients get all my phone numbers (even my “home phone” though I ask it not be used unless it is urgent). I work 6 days a week but check messages and email 7 days a week. (I’m nicer if better slept and with a day off!) Normally I take Sundays off. Open houses are always covered, so no worries!

I am a bit of an email addict so check it at least 4 times a day, if not more. I do check my office voice mail daily but if it is urgent, I request you call me on my cell phone, 408 204-POPE (408 204-7673). When I do go on vacation, I always inform clients of who’s “covering” for me but also continue to check email – I have done this from Japan to Italy. I know that when you hire ME, you want MY help and advice. I am never completely out of touch.

My approach to selling homes is flexible and organized – I am a perfectionist when it comes to your satisfaction, but also in paying attention to the details (because ultimately, they can cost you money if I do not!). I plan ahead and strategize so the whole process is calmer. I combine the latest technologies with traditional know-how to create a sales approach that is comprehensive, highly responsive, and effective. I will help you assess your home’s value accurately, prepare your home to sell quickly, and attract a qualified buyer, and assist you all the way through the escrow to closing – and beyond! (The following page, Marketing Your Home, does include a generic version of the Mary Pope-Handy home marketing plan. Please take a look. You will find me to be very detail oriented.)

The Right Realtor

Selling your home is a sophisticated undertaking. Finding the right Silicon Valley real estate agent is, too. Using superior sales tools and industry know-how, the right real estate agent will ensure that the process of selling your home is as painless as possible, efficient, and profitable, instead of frustrating, time-consuming, and financially disappointing. My goal is do do all of that and a whole lot more. My testimonials and the number of repeat and referral clients tell me I’m on track.

Most importantly, though, I DO put your interests first. I care about ethics and doing “the right thing”. I want you to be successful and happy whether you are selling a tiny condo in Blossom Valley, buying a loft in downtown San Jose, exchanging income property in Campbell or selling or buying an estate property in Almaden Valley, Los Gatos, Saratoga, Cupertino, or Los Altos. My goal is to turn my clients into my raving fans, such that you want to tell all your friends that I can be relied upon to help you 200%.

I will help you make your sale a resounding success in every way: from the pre-sale planning to the staging to the negotiating to the closing. My combination of skill, experience, comprehensive marketing capability, and technological advantages ensure that I can sell your home:

  1. For the hightest possible price
  2. In the shortest period of time
  3. With your comfort and convenience assured

I have the tools to meet the demands of a highly competitive, modern market. But just as importantly, I know that real estate is a highly personal business. I want you to experience a win-win situation and to know that your best interests have been my highest concern.

Mary’s Seller Services To save your time, minimize your stress, provide maximum security and help assure you net the greatest possible equity; I will perform the following services for you, the home seller (this is a partial list):

1 – Prepare an objective analysis of your home and the current market.

2 – Provide counsel as to your best pricing strategy.

3 – Provide value enhancing home sale preparation advice. (This is quite extensive and includes doing pre-sale paperwork, inspections, staging, and much, much more.)

4 – Supply my name and sign which provides quality professional positioning.

5 – Provide thorough promotion of your home to find your best buyer.

6 – Help assure that your potential buyers are well qualified to purchase your home.

7 – Help identify and communicate your home’s valuable benefits to the potential buyers.

8 – Counsel other agents when showing your home to encourage the prospective buyers to buy now.

9 – Review all offers in detail and provide negotiation representation of your interests.

10 – Provide assistance in obtaining financing to the buyers or their agents as needed.

11 – Coordinate the closing of your sale with other Realtors, lenders, inspectors, appraisers, attorneys, escrow officers, and title insurance companies.

12 – Provide on-going personal communication to keep you informed on the step by step progress of the sale of your home.

13 – Provide post-sale follow-up to assure your total satisfaction.

I may or may not be the person who will directly produce the buyer for your home, but I will be the person who will cause your home to sell and personally represent you in the process.

You can’t get these services from me unless I am your listing agent who is hired to represent your personal interests in the sale of your home.

You have much to gain and little to lose by hiring me. If you don’t receive an acceptable written agreement to purchase your home, you owe me nothing.

Why Sellers Choose Mary Pope-Handy

I am not a mega-agent. You will never be treated like cattle. My business is based largely on referrals (and repeat business). Most of the clients who decide to hire me do so because they have family, friends, or aquaintances who have become “raving fans”.

I am detail oriented, but above all else, I care about people and about “doing the right thing”. Ethics matter to me – a lot! That means doing “due dilligance” with the numbers crunching, looking for “red flags” with the property condition, and paying a lot of attention to the details throughout the transaction. At the end of the day, whether you buy with me or not, whether you list with me or not, it matters to ME that I tell you the truth and that I act with integrity throughout our interactions. Many times I have told people to not buy a particular house or that it was not in their best interests to sell their home. I believe that my actions will come back to me many times over again. This is just living by the Golden Rule, and it’s the bedrock of my work ethic.

I play by the rules, but am hardworking and cutting edge and asssertive in getting my clients top dollar. I believe in win-win, but not in anyone getting steamrolled. I absolutely believe that if you do your homework and preparation upfront, whether buying or selling, your profit margin will be higher and so I will do my level best to get you to do so. Preparation is the key to your success. It’s like what woodworkers say: “measure twice, cut once”.

If you are looking for a hardball, go for the jugular, take no prisioners agent, that’s not me. I don’t believe that our “winning” has to mean steamrolling the other side. And in fact, when someone has been steamrolled, he or she is FAR more likely to sue you later. So whatever profit you thought you were going to have is going to be at jeopardy.

Better to do your work upfront, make a great deal, and leave everyone feeling lucky that they got to buy or sell with you. Happy folks don’t sue, they foreward your mail if you were the seller, they can call you to ask for a refresher on the sprinker system if you’re the buyer, and everyone lives happily ever after. Win-win. Do your homework upfront and enjoy the best of everything – a great profit, a great buy, a happy rapport when it’s all said and done.

Preparation is the very basis of negotiation strategy. When you set the stage properly at the beginning, everything else is almost easy.

When you compare agents, please compare what they do, and not just the fee they charge. Often the better agent will “net” you more!

Something else to consider is working with a Seniors Real Estate Specialist if you (or your loved one wanting or needing to sell the home) is in retirement years or fast approaching them. SRES agents have extra training and a particular interest in assisting retirees and the elderly.

Mary Pope-Handy, Realtor Working all of Silicon Valley: San Jose, Saratoga, Los Gatos, Campbell California Department of Real Estate License # 01153805