Last month, we left you hanging a bit as we discussed the importance of finding the right location of your future home. While you might be flexible about many of the property’s aspects as you shop, location is probably one that you should be very careful about. Remember that, unlike renting, this is not only your home, but it’s also likely to be an investment.
Hopefully, at some point, you will feel that it’s time to move up, or to sell this first home. And if the fates are good, as well as your decision-making, it would be nice to get a return on your investment. We haven’t seen much of that in recent years, but it certainly has been the rule over the long haul, and is likely to be again (we’re already seeing it in many markets). Remember, though, that it’s your home first, and an investment second.
Today’s perfect location may not be tomorrow’s, and with the way that neighborhoods have been changing, one very important piece now is “potential.” What might not have been an “A” destination in the past might be that in the near future. If you are interested in possibly making an investment in an area that doesn’t look so great today, but perhaps has some new infrastructure in the offing – transportation lines, future retail or light industrial improvements coming –you might be very happy with the results when it comes time to sell.
In the North Bay, for example, there is a commuter rail line being developed. Some properties near the proposed train stations that, in the past, were less desirable have become much more so almost overnight. But other areas along the train right-of-way may be perceived to have lost some value. These types of things are worthy of thought and open minds in any community. So, in short, do a lot of homework and talk to your agent in depth about where you might want to live.
Now – about writing that offer. This is where a good, experienced agent will really be your ally. There is a general misconception that price is what determines the quality of an offer, and while that’s usually the first thing a seller will look at, by no means is it the only factor that will determine whether or not yours will be accepted. All the money in the world isn’t worth a thing if the offer can’t be successfully seen through to close of escrow – at that point it becomes not only worthless, but also, in many cases, costly. Your REALTOR® should be able to tell you what kinds of things are important to a seller when they review your offer.
There are many strategies that your agent can discuss with you, such as length of escrow, length of contingency periods, rent back possibilities for the seller’s benefit, and more, which can make your offer shine a little brighter than others. And, especially if you are in a competitive situation with other buyers over the same property, you will want to be as appealing as possible. Something has to make it an offer that the seller can’t refuse. Ask your agent what sorts of things you can do to “sweeten the pot” and there should be some answers there along, of course, with that magic word: “cash.”
Next month we’ll get back to some numbers and trends. There are changes in the wind.
A Bay Area native, Mark Penn has been a REALTOR® with Coldwell Banker since 2004. He is also active in animal welfare, and is a former educator, facilitator, and air traffic controller. Mark can be reached at mark@MyHomeInSonoma.com.