A look back at 2017 and Predictions for 2018

By: Jim Walberg – Staff Writer for The Bay Area Team @pacificunion

2018So, another amazing year in real estate has come to a close in the Bay Area. And, 2018 is about to begin. My article is about how my predictions for last year turned out, and what to expect in the East Bay world of real estate in 2018.

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Tips For Today’s Sizzling HOT Markets: February 2013 vs. February 2012

How long will this HOT home market continue in the Bay Area?

Buyers are asking; “Should I pay more than the asking price?

What purchase terms can I eliminate in order to be most competitive with my offer?
2013 East Bay Real Estate = HOTWhat a difference a year makes!  The stock market has just hit historic highs – almost doubling where it was during the past recession, and Bay Area home prices are continuing to rise every month with no end in sight.  And, I don’t believe we are looking at a housing ‘bubble’ either.

The economics of home purchases is night and day compared to what we saw in the artificial run up eight years ago.  Today, Buyers have to have some skin in the game.  In our higher end markets they typically are putting a 20% or more down payment compared to past lending requirements of fogging a mirror.  At this time we are not seeing speculative buying of homes.  Families are not expecting to make a $100,000 profit each month on their home as they did in the mid-2000’s.   They are actually wanting to live in the home and raise their families there. Continue reading

Six Reasons Home Buyers Need To Hire A Realtor

Why is it important to hire a real estate ‘detective’?

What is so important about having a neighborhood guide?

How does a home buyer manage all of the buying challenges?

Getting the keys to your new home.The Bay Area real estate market conditions have never been more difficult for home buyers, at least since 1970 when I started keeping records.  With the inventory of homes for sale are at historic lows,  Buyers are scrambling to compete with multiple offers, all cash purchases,  prices going over asking, and homes not appraising for what Buyers are willing to pay.  It is a crazy time for Buyers and they need to know what to do and not do.  Time is not on their side as the Seller’s market of 2013 marches forward.  Their nerves are frazzled, they often have lost hope of snagging their next home because of the jump in prices, and are scrambling to find some small advantage that will allow them to “win” with the purchase of a home. Continue reading

2013: Two Key Bay Area Real Estate Economic Indicators – New Home Sales & New Car Sales

Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of gross domestic product.

New home sales represent 5% of the GDP.

Car sales at the highest rate since 2008.

2013 Bay Area Real EstateIn past articles, I have focused on several key economic indicators to watch as the Bay Area real estate markets race out the economic down turn of the past five years;  1) New home sales;  2) Home prices;  3) Home Equity;  4) Mortgage interest rates;  and,  5) Home rental rates.   All five of these indicators are going in the correct direction for Bay Area real estate in 2013.  However, there is one other indicator to add to my list that I was not paying attention to – new car sales.

Earlier this month we made predictions of how the Bay Area economy would turn out.  Now, the two indicators we are closely watching that are impacting Bay Area real estate are;  1) The acceleration of new home construction;  and,  2) The dramatic increases in new car sales.  Who would have imagined that the rate of car sales was such a key indicator of having a healthy Bay Area economy?  Below is just a summary of what we are noticing regarding these two key indicators. Continue reading

Bug! Real Estate Has Shown Up In The East Bay Marketplace!

1-bug-wallene.jpgWho could ever imagine a real estate company that is operated out of a VW Bug – Bug! Real Estate is doing it right now?

Wallene Nelsen, the owner of Sycamore Creek Mortgage in Danville is the newest franchise owner for Bug! Real Estate. Her office is located in the Livery in Danville, but her real estate business is actually run out of a VW Bug that has been branded in an unforgettable manner!  Bug! Real Estate is the brainchild of Kevin Seney out of Coronado, California – right next to San Diego.

Ms. Nelsen embraced the vision of Kevin Seney, the CEO of Bug! Real Estate.  Mr. Seney started Bug! Real Estate with a mission to deliver a new real estate experience. If he could pull it off the company would be the first real estate company to break the mold of the current real estate business models. Mr. Seney says, “Today’s real estate companies don’t vary in the way they’re branded, how they advertise or how they service the customer. When you see something like that in the marketplace, that spells opportunity!” Ms. Nelsen has latched onto that opportunity.

Mr. Seney has witnessed how much money agents waste on marketing. “They run their $2,000 to $3,000 ad, and they don’t get any calls from it,” he says. Seney’s intuitions were confirmed when he read the Purple Cow by Seth Gordin, which emphasizes that advertising doesn’t work anymore, and it hasn’t for years.

Seney says the only three relevant factors in home selling are putting a sign in front of the home, putting the home on the MLS and pricing it right. “If you price the home at market price, it will sell,” he says. Without a need for marketing, Bug! has eliminated the expense from its budget and is a more efficient company because of it.  We will see if his theory holds true in the current market of homes taking two to three months to sell.

1-bug-upside-down-photo.jpgThe other major costs for real estate companies is overhead. “I’ve surveyed hundreds of buyers, and very few ever meet agents at their office,” he says. “Buyers either meet at the property or sign the papers at the mortgage or title company.” In a laptop-friendly, work-from-home business model, the majority of agents use the office only for meetings. That’s why Bug! agents work virtually. Using the latest wireless technology, agents have full access to the MLS and the company’s intranet via their wireless laptops and cell phones.

Mr. Seney’s last hurdel in getting his company out to the marketplace was creating a brand. While Seney isn’t a big supporter of traditional advertising, he is a firm believer of creating a unique brand. “In business today, you have to stand out in an amazing way, and if you don’t, you won’t get any business,” he emphasizes.

So Bug! is the “purple cow” in a herd of herfers! In fact, Bug! bills itself as the no-frills, no-hype real estate company, making it a fun, friendly real estate brand like nothing else that exists today. To live up to that image, all Bug! agents drive the VW Bug, a car that not only represents a casual and fun experience, but it’s also an worldwide brand already. “And by using the VW Beetle as our delivery vehicle for this brand, we get to borrow that history,” says Seney.

Bug! agents drive around with the company’s logo on their vehicles, so the cars actually double as billboards. “You see them everywhere because they’re so recognizable,” says Seney, “and that’s the essence of what we’re doing from a marketing standpoint-we’re famous without much advertising.”

Having launched in February 2007, Bug! is going strong. It has opened four new franchises, as well as one regional office, and receives 100 inquiries per month from eager real estate brokers who love the Bug! model and want to open a franchise. It looks like Seney’s plans to turn the traditional real estate models upside down wasn’t such a bad idea after all. I will keep you posted on their progress, and how Ms. Nelsen’s Danville rolling Bug! Real Estate business turns out.  We wish them well, as the face of real estate continues to change. Until next time…Any comments???