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?

Have a guest house or suite you can donate to fire victims?

I have found the best way to offer a landing pad for those who have lost their home in the Paradise Camp fire, and possibly their business as well, is to register your in-law, cottage, or suite of rooms on the AirBNB disaster page here. I believe there will be many willing to relocate, at least temporarily.

Take the best photos you can and offer a realistic description of the home, suite of rooms, location, how long it is available and price (if any). On AirBNB, you are able to interview potential renters. I am looking for a good template for a rental agreement to protect a homeowner under these circumstances, even if no rent is charged. Contact me if you are in need of one. I hope to have one by the end of the week.

Here’s the Story… of Orange Formica….

This retro chic mid-century modern will be on display Sunday 2-4. I’m holding this home open for a colleague and will enjoy meeting potential buyers who appreciate the De Luca design, and can envision modern upgrades that would add value as well.

Spacious rooms, great indoor-outdoor flow PLUS a 3-car garage! Don’t miss this super cool home for sale by the original owners in a great Mill Valley school district.

208 Ricardo Road
Mill Valley