Furnished Sonoma Rental

Looking for a short-term wine country get-away or a furnished place to land in between homes?

This modern guest home is quiet and private, yet within walking distance of Sonoma’s historic and charming plaza. 2 BRs, 1 BA, stylishly furnished and equipped.

Call Julie Leitzell for rates and availability.

A New Program to Help You Buy First and Sell Fast

Golden Gate Sotheby’s has a new program available for those who are struggling with the challenges of making a move. The ‘Next Level’ Concierge program has several options that homeowners with equity in their homes can choose from to prepare their home for sale and/or buy their next home first.

The aspect of this program I wish I had for so many past clients is the ability to get all the property preparation work done prior to marketing the home… and in a streamlined fashion. With the concierge program, we provide a bid for property preparation custom to your home, which includes items like painting, repairs, landscaping, staging, and cosmetic upgrades like new lighting fixtures or countertops. If you approve, you don’t pay a cent until you close escrow at which time the funds will be paid to the contractor and vendors out of your proceeds

Our approved tradespeople are all licensed and insured, which of course is an important protection for you should there be an accident or damage during the process. We can also add a qualified contractor to the list of approved vendors. There is a 10% premium on whatever you choose to have done, but it is possible that even with the premium, the Concierge bids will be competitive with others due to the large scale of this program. Of course, the time savings to you is invaluable, and a home that is warm, inviting and shows well with Sotheby’s trademark photography will inevitably bring in a much higher price.

For those who may not have the income or the down payment (or home equity line) for purchasing your next home before you sell, there is a new suite of loan programs for many different situations. This allows buyers to find the perfect home, move, and then have the experts prepare and stage the initial home giving you a better shot at multiple offers, a fast sale and high price. Homes that are stylishly furnished, always ‘on’ and available for agents to show clients at any time seem to be on the tour lists more often. Of course, selling first and renting for a year as a way to try out a new area is a great idea, too.

Click here for more information and I would be happy to discuss with you how this plan may fit in with your plans and goals.

What are “Measurable Results” in Real Estate?

I’m looking at the front-page ad that just came out today with my headshot and my tagline: ‘Marketing Plans with Measurable Results.’ It got me thinking about what buyers and sellers should look for in their agents and what type of ‘results’ can be observed and quantified.

Any agent boasting a high volume may be able to point to a large number of listings, but in some cases, if you dig a little deeper, you may find an agent who collects listings, but the percentage of those sold, especially in the first week when the seller is likely to receive a high price, is low. Look for an agent who SELLS listings, not for one who collects them. Take a look at how long their recent listings have been on the market and whether they have sold. Contact a couple of the sellers to see if they are satisfied with the level of activity and marketing methods.

One method of measuring the effectiveness of an agent’s marketing methods is to attend the agents’ first broker open and first public open house. Is the listing agent there, or is it a fill-in from their team, their company, or worse, a family member who knows absolutely nothing about the house?

Is the ambience at the open house one that is warm, welcoming and informative for those who seem interested in the home? Is the open well attended? Are the furniture groupings inviting, is there subtle music, a comfortable temperature and refreshments that invite potential buyers to linger? There is nothing worse than a cold, unfurnished, dark home with an agent sitting on a folding chair who pounces with an air of desperation. There’s a local team who routinely has one member at the door as the ‘greeter’, but it feels more like a bouncer. Even as an agent, the vibe is off-putting.

Do you see high quality glossy folded brochures at the home, or is it a print-out from the MLS that is the only take-away for interested buyers, or worse, nothing at all? Are the photos on line and in the brochure inviting and attractive? Is there a property website that features the home, perhaps with a montage with video snippets on the home page?

Has the agent spent the time necessary for having a complete disclosure packet available for interested buyers? This will keep the momentum of the first week going as several packets should go out and hopefully prompt at least one buyer to step up in order to secure the property.

Is the timeline for putting your home on the market designed for the highest visibility of your home in the first week or is it for the convenience of the listing agent?

Cut-rate listing agents may not be available to show the home to buyers without agents, may not be jumping on opportunities for higher visibility, and may project a low-class image of the property through their photos and marketing materials. Missing out on just one extra buyer could mean a difference of several hundred thousand dollars in high-priced Bay Area markets.

DOUBLE-ENDING

In my experience, a great majority of the time an agent who ‘double ends’, representing both the buyer and the seller, in reality is more motivated to protect their big payday of double the commission. I do not double-end as I find I cannot in good conscience claim to be representing two sides of a negotiation and transaction.

FOR BUYERS

It continues to amaze me that so many agents send their buyers to homes that they themselves have not had the time or made an effort to view. This happens quite a lot in wine country, as Bay Area agents do not want to give up their commission by referring their clients out to others who are more knowledgeable and active in different markets. What this means for a buyer is they find themselves looking at homes and neighborhoods that are totally inappropriate for their needs. It’s important to make sure your agent is knowledgeable about off market listings, regulations, recommended inspections, prices, and the pros and cons of various homes and neighborhoods. Frankly, just knowing the listing agent will help a motivated buyer win in a multiple offer situation.

Who are the best inspectors in town? What contractor will come over and offer a casual estimate of repairs? What are the traffic patterns and weather in different areas? Are there any ongoing issues in the neighborhood? This is just a fraction of the kind of information an informed agent will provide.

With my residency in Marin of 25 years, and Sonoma Valley for 5, I am covering these markets intensely through networking meetings and weekly touring. My testimonials at JulieLeitzell.com refer to a couple of examples of my buyers who benefitted from a head-start on their dream home, resulting in a ratified contract even in multiple offer situations.

Real Estate Global Contacts — Delivered

As a part of the Global Networking Event for Sotheby’s International Realty in Vancouver, Canada earlier this month, my networking opportunities and benefits of being involved with Sotheby’s International Real Estate climbed to a higher level. Meeting and talking with so many top agents from all over the globe, one of my takeaways is that the market correction we are experiencing right now is global, not local. Many areas are being affected by a pull-back of investment from Asian countries like China. Some cities like Vancouver have passed a heavy tax on those investors who purchase property, but leave it vacant. Locally, sellers in Marin are becoming more reasonable in their pricing. My inbox is filled with at least 30 emails per day on price reductions in Marin, San Francisco and Sonoma County.

When you sell, it’s important to price your home right, present it with style and class, and of course, benefit from the Sotheby’s brand identification! As conference speaker Gwyneth Paltrow said in a discussion of branding, “When I see a Sotheby’s sign outside of a home, my impression is that it must be a really nice house.”

I have contacts for friendly, knowledgeable, hard-working agents all over the country, and all over the globe. If you or someone you know needs a couple of recommendations in another market, allow me to send you agents I have already vetted and pre-interviewed.

What Makes a Good Listing Agent?

If you’re thinking of selling your home, you may want to visit open houses listed by any of the agents you are interviewing. Look for red flags that indicate you will not get the kind of service that will bring in the highest price possible:

  • Does the agent host the broker open tour or is there an assistant, or worse, a family member who knows nothing about the property there?
  • Is there a high quality glossy brochure or did the agent print out pages from the MLS?
  • Are the photographs and website produced in a way that presents the home in a way that invites buyers to imagine living there?   See www.139Belvedere.com as an example.
  • Is the open presented in a warm and friendly manner, with beverages, bites, and pleasant music?
  • Does the agent host both a Saturday and Sunday open house during that all-important first week on the market?
  • Does the agent present the home with professionalism and enthusiasm, rather than barely looking up from a laptop?
  • Has the agent taken the time to gather all the disclosures and information on the property by the time it hits MLS, so interested buyers are not kept waiting, and therefore, second-guessing?
  • Will the agent be available on an agreed-upon date that buyers know offers are due so offers are responded to on that date?

It’s true that some of the top agents simply don’t have time for paving the way for multiple offers and high prices for their clients.  It’s important to talk to former clients, and walk in to an open house as if you are a buyer to see if the environment and information are at a standard that you would like your property presented.

Waterside for $950K

Stellar Sausalito location for this 2 BR pied-a-terre. The Cote D’Azure complex is overlooking the beach, the harbor, and the charming town of Sausalito. What a view! I’m holding this gem open for a colleague Sunday 1-4. Contact me for details. www.JulieLeitzell.com

Julie’s Top Picks for Wine Country Events

Get your passes now for the Sonoma Valley Film Festival, March 27-31. www.SonomaFilmFest.org

Click here for this week’s video featuring some guy named Tim and Ari, the owner of Glen Ellen’s ‘Star’ restaurant presenting some fun events.

A Preview:
What could be more fun than sanctioned heckling during a notoriously bad movie… or taking a stroll around Sonoma’s plaza to see really good art? Plus Sonoma’s Restaurant Week wraps up this week-end. Ari provides ordering tips and a Wednesday night no corkage-fee weekly special at Star!

Housing Solution or Quality of Life Killer?

Sacramento is hell bent on creating a developer free-for-all as you can see in today’s Chronicle article linked below. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of densely-packed cities…but I also love the charm and lifestyle found in small towns and I think the latter is on the chopping block in the Bay Area. The urbanites’ ‘build your way to utopia’ vision is on display in the miles of 4-story densely packed apartments and condos at Dublin Station near I-680/580. Those who say high density building will bring prices down should take a look at the ads for a Dublin close-to-highway one BR at $2,200 and well over $3,000 a month for larger townhomes. So much for a low income housing solution. The soulless community character and lack of sunlight may be an attractive lifestyle for some, and handy transitional housing for others, but there are plenty of charming small towns that should not be forced by Sacramento bureaucrats to ‘urbanize’ in a misguided attempt at regional planning, as described here.

I think a more effective solution to our housing crisis is to incentivize businesses and corporations to open headquarters and offices in communities that need the jobs and would welcome and accommodate more development. At some point, as much as Oakland, San Francisco or Silicon Valley cities’ powers-that-be crave more growth, projects and revenue, it’s time to acknowledge we’re at the breaking point. It’s just a fact of life that most of us cannot bike to work, people, and gridlock is only getting worse with more building.

How the legislature’s housing quotas and density dreams will ultimately affect small towns in counties like Sonoma and Marin remains to be seen, but Gavin Newsom has already sued the waterside town of Huntington Beach for not building more housing units. Small towns, man your battle stations!

Tips for estimating construction costs, getting accurate bids and completing a no-surprise project

After completing an 840 sq ft ADU (rental cottage), I thought I would share what I learned. In addition to the tips below, I have 2 pages of recommendations. Email me at Julie.Leitzell@SothebysRealty.com

1. Call your contractor’s recommended geotech soils company immediately to find out how long it will take to get a site soils test (for construction, not fire clean-up), and how long it takes to get the report back. (try to get a guarantee) Results affect plans, foundation, and engineering. Companies are booked out.

2. Does architects’ services and estimate include coordination with engineer and what might engineering costs be?

3. Does architect order and pay for mandated energy reports (Title 24, Cal Green, etc)?

4. Are sprinklers mandated for your remodel or new construction? Get it in writing from city if not. A 2nd unit may not be mandated if main home does not have them.

5. Ask contractor about sprinkler manufacturer. See Sac Bee story about faulty sprinklers causing havoc in one neighborhood.

6. Research mandated materials for roof, siding, windows, if applicable (fire resistance).

7. Get ALL discussions about materials and agreements in writing, or at least an email confirmation from your contractor.

8. PERMITS: city, county, water, sewer, school ‘impact’ fees. Research before you start. I received a $12,000 surprise permit bill from Sonoma county at the end of my project, for sanitary district ‘infrastructure’. And Marin residents don’t realize that even for a remodel, they may need to test and replace the sewer line.

A $1.595 steal?

A $1.595 steal? Similar to a foreclosure auction, a savvy buyer with all cash may be able to pick up this gated 10 acre property in a judgement sale. Stellar close-to #Sonoma Plaza location. Mediterranean home w pool and southwest views over valley. Do you need a savvy local #realestate agent who uncovers #wine country deals?