California DRE No. 01807002
There have been many great transactions. When obvious items are disclosed and an agent is more than willing to communicate everything, this helps in the trust process knowing what a client is getting for their money.
I never want to be on the other side of the table from you in a real estate transaction.
--a friend of mine said this to me. When she is ready to purchase a home, she will contact me for sure.
I was working for the Union Pacific Railroad as a heavy grade freight locomotive engineer. Eventually, my seniority, I was able to hold down the lrb32 (Perm Local). This was the line from San Jose (circ-7 ps717) to the Kaiser Permanente Cement Plant in Cupertino, CA. This was started and owned by Henry J. Kaiser. He later had the hospital built to care for any of his employees injured at the plant. Later, the medical field for him took off and the rest is history. I ran those trains to and from there for a few years. It ran down from San Jose to Downtown Diridon Station and branched off the Vasona Lead. Along Southwest Expressway, through Campbell, CA and followed along Winchester towards Los Gatos, CA. Hard right turn along highway 85 (old line went through Los Gatos, CA and over the Santa Cruz Mountains known as Wrights Tunnel (under Summit and highway 17) and to Olympia that is currently running from Felton, CA to Santa Cruz, CA known as Roaring Camp Railroad (I used to work for them on weekends). But the Perm line, we haul coal, and now changed to coke for the plant and bring back cement. Very heavy trains and very steep grade in Cupertino.
One day, I was showing a property to a client. The listing agent said to some people as well as my client that "The railroad line here is no longer used. You don't have to worry about the tracks being used. They will remove them. I called and spoke with the railroad company."
Well, one thing I dislike is dishonesty. It's one thing to not know, but it's another thing to say otherwise. I let the person know that it wasn't true. He disagreed and I had to politely wait and let him know this was false information. Of course when I started to speak, he interrupted and questioned me. I merely pulled out my wallet and showed him my Federal Railroad Administration Locomotive Engineer License plus my Union Pacific Railroad ID Card. I told him that I was the actual locomotive engineer for this particular line. I ran the train every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We take loaded coke and empty cement cars, then return with loaded cement cars and empty hopper cars (coke or coal).
Moreover, I also went to the car and grabbed my grip (grip is our bag with railroad rules GCOR, books, time table, special instructions, lantern, and many other items). Being on call on the railroad has it's interesting moments. To have a real estate agent, at an open house where another agent telling people there are no trains when there are was quite an interesting story even to myself. I pulled out my Track Warrents and the last train I ran paperwork to prove it.
He didn't want to talk after that, but I just wanted the people to know there are actual trains on that track.
Lastly, it's been helpful for any real estate anywhere about the railroad since I've run trains throughout California and into Nevada (Sparks, NV). For commercial or residential and with knowledge of how railroads run, it can be helpful. Not being within 1/2 a mile from a railroad crossing means you will not be in the zone where they will blow the horn each time.
Please feel free to ask me anything you like about the railroad and real estate. I would be happy to share.
My clients found a home. It was initally listed for $1.3 million. When we came across the listing, it was $840k. The agent wanted to highlight the water tank that feeds the home. It had a retaining wall that was bulging out (if lost, no water for the home). They highlighted the $4,400 credit because of the water tank retaining wall.
I went ahead to look at the home. With one of my high tech tools, I used it to find out the floor was tilted. Was this an issue? Or just settlement of the home? My high tech tool? A simple glass marble.
I went to look at the entire outside home. Viewing underneath the deck surrounding the home, water was collecting and falling between the boards. Erosion of the soil holding the cement pillars bases was allowing the home to slide on this sandy hill. Also, the electrical pipe feeding into the meter was showing a simple sign as well. It was bent to the right from the bottom, but connected a few feet above on the home. This exposure showed the old color of white paint from the blue color currently. Hence, when they painted the house, the electrical feed pipe was blocking some of the paint (a straight line like the pipe). However, it was now at an angle. The soil was there, but the home was pulling to the side (same side as the marble rolled).
Since I worked for the railroad, I had contacts with Granite Construction. I called for an estimate. The cost to factor with the repairs to maintain this home on the knoll was for about $110k. Our offer of $650k was denied, and same with our counter offer of $740k. The house sold 11.5 months later for $625k. In short, we were not that far off and the repairs were necessary to stablize the home.
Selling a property, the agent emailed me asking for $4,000 credits for repairs. I asked to view the property inspection report and to please itemize the justification for the $4,000. But this was not done and I then itemized each and every item listed in the property inspection report obtained by the buyers.
Each and every item was listed and totaled to $124.72. I asked kindly to the agent how they were to come up with $4,000, but offered only $200 total to sign off on this and all other contingencies. This $200 credit was also including to hire someone to fix the items.
In short, I know what it costs to fix something from experience and substantiate my communications with estimates, costs or such. I don't just bounce numbers arbitrarily. Saved my client $3,800.
Writing offers can be simple or complex. But in an aggressive market in West Sacramento because of the top schools in this area, we had to be asertive and aggressive. The home was listed for about $275k. If the offer is higher, than the appraised valued, the seller can technically walk out despite the time and money we spent. Usually an agreement is make at this stage. We wanted to take away any ambiguity from the offer. Thus, let the appraisal be the offer. My client wanted to and did offer $15k over appraisal, not to exceed $300k.
The seller agent (as a broker too), said she never seen an offer written that way. I replied "We got into contract, didn't we" with a smile. The appraisal came in at $250k and thus, the offer not to exceed $300k (per lender and qualifications), came to $260k minus $5k because the air conditioner was not working (Freon 12 was to be banned in 4 months and I obtained an estimate for changing out the system cost $5k). Thus, $260k was the final price.
But upon trying to close escrow, I always prefer to go with my clients. The title company let us know this entire process will take 10 minutes. I let her know I will be reviewing every page as that is my practice of real estate. It took us 1.5 hours. I read every page and then put my reviewed pages in front of my client to review, then sign. I found an instrument that was not given during escrow. An instrument is a document basicaly and I asked my buyers to cross it off and initial it.
The selling agent/broker was very angry that we did not close escrow. I simply asked for this missing instrument No. xxxxxx. It was CC&R's. The broker/agent said "We don't pay any monthly dues." I replied, CC&R's are rules, you are thinking of HOA.
So, upon receiving the instrument (CC&R's) that afternoon, I read the entire document and shared with my client atop of explaining what it came down to. We agreed and signed off the following day to close escrow.
The agent complimented me saying that I was always cool as a cucumber. My reply was that you have to protect your seller and my buyer, and I have to protect my buyer and your seller. The bottom line goal is to disclose everything and bring it up now. Prevent a lawsuit that will waste the clients time in the future. I know, I was involved for 6.5 years before obtaining my license.
Chico market was a very slow market. Many homes were on the market and we needed to sell. I asked my mom (adopted family since I attended Chico State and they have become family to me) if I can list the home slightly lower than others. Remember, you don't have to accept an offer until you sign it.
Not only did we obtain offers, we obtained offers for over asking price and over valued appraisal price! By bringing the price down, we let the market truly show itself.
The most difficult thing about this was at the open houses, other sellers came to view this home. One lady was upset and disbelief. My broker and I spoke with her. She told us that her home was on the market for over a year and hasn't seen one single person just look. As always, the first question is "do you have an agent representing you?" The answer was yes and all we could do is "speak with you agent." My hands were tied. But too many agents in soft areas will overprice a home. The iron is hot when you first list the home and that is the key chance you have. Over price the home, and it doesn't matter what you do a few weeks later. Do it right the first time. After all, market price is market price.
Brentwood, CA was a soft market. My friend (before I obtaining my real estate license) wanted to sell her home. I recommended my broker. He suggested to my client to sell her home for a price that was $15k less than all the other four homes in the area. With a soft market and if you have one single buyer, you want your home to sell. After all, there is only one single buyer that finally came.
So, by lowering the price by $15k today, the other homes when they finally sold, were well below $50k to $100k later. Thus, come down lower a little today to sell now than keep lowering for the next year. Get ahead of the market.
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