Posts Tagged ‘Rachel LaMar’

How to Find the Right House When Couples Have Different Perspectives

Monday, April 20th, 2015

One of the most challenging situations any real estate agent can face is working with a couple where each person has different ideas on what their new home should look like, where it should sit, or what amenities it must contain. Personally, I like challenges because they are like puzzles that need to be solved; once I help buyers work through them and we find a home that makes them both happy, it is extremely rewarding for me as well. images-1

Some buyers start out excited to look at homes and quickly realize they are not on the same page; for others it takes longer – they make find a home that one loves and the other could never imagine living in. Or they may see two homes that are very different, or in different neighborhoods, and divide on which one they would like to purchase.

Most buyer couples quickly realize that they may have to compromise a bit in order to find a home that makes them both happy. Here are some great suggestions that will help these buyers find a home that meets most of what both are looking for:

1.  Make a list. This is the good-old suggestion that I always throw out there no matter what difficult decision is facing someone – I have taught my kids to do it too and it really does put things into perspective. Ask each of your buyers to make a list of things they must have in a new home, things they would like to have, those they don’t particularly care for but could possibly live with if they had to, and those things they absolutely do not care for. The easiest way to do this is to draw columns so you can compare all these things side by side. It is important that each person who is a decision maker does this along, without the help of the other decision maker(s).

Once the lists are complete, I like to look at them myself and prepare a “report,” that finds the commonalities and the complete differences. It really helps for the decision makers to see what they actually do have in common and what they completely disagree upon. It helps to discuss this together – not to argue or get frustrated, but to understand where the partners are coming from.

house_question2.  Encourage an open mind. Conflicted couples know that they will likely have to compromise (whether they like it or not), but they may not know there are other options out there that neither has considered. By encouraging them both to have an open mind, I can go to work to find properties that they may not have even considered. Armed with their lists I can research, visit homes and then report back to them – hopefully getting them to agree to have a look. I have had many couples start out looking in particular neighborhoods, yet end up purchasing elsewhere  – somewhere they would never have considered in the beginning.

Similarly, a home that would have been overlooked at the start, let’s say because the yard was too small and both parties really wanted a larger yard, may be a possibility if changes can be made to expand the yard – this of course will take some research but if the outcome is positive it may open up possibilities for the buyers.

3.  Decide which items each party is willing to concede. As for the items that are completely opposing in the lists that were created, the couple needs to think about which items they will each concede – in other words, where are they willing to cooperate? If one insists on hardwood flooring and the other loves a home with travertine tile flooring, can one of them live with the flooring that would not be their first choice? If one wants to be in a neighborhood that is walking distance to shops and eateries and the other wants to be more secluded, who is willing to give in and look at conceding personal desires? Of course, with a concession there is the expectation that the other party will give in as well on another point, so it is important to discuss (see number 4 below).

4.  Be ready to compromise.  If one person likes modern style homes and the other likes traditional, both will want to consider a compromise. Maybe they find a Craftsman home and combine interior design styles so that there are modern and traditional elements.

5. Don’t let your relationship be affected by your design tastes. Keep in mind that buying a home is a big decision, and don’t let your relationship take a toll during such an important decision-making process. It IS possible to find a home that will make you both happy, but you need to be open, willing and ready to make concessions.

Purchasing a home is definitely not an easy process, but that doesn’t mean that it should be made more difficult due to clashing personal preferences. If buyers recognize the needs of their partners and make a plan to compromise and have open minds, it IS possible to find a home that will make them both happy – I have seen this happen many times so I know it is true.

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How is that Real Estate Market?

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

Tax day is over…time to turn our focus back to the real estate market. I have to take a moment to say that I truly admire my accountants, because I could never do what they do – and so competently! Kudos to all you accountants out there for making peoples’ lives easier, and I am glad we all survived another tax day!

How is the real estate market doing? I get asked that question several times daily. My answer: it is HOT! Demand still has not met supply, and properties are selling quickly and oftentimes with multiple offers. It is great for sellers, but not so wonderful for buyers because there is little to choose from and they have to make quick decisions. For those buyers who are well-educated and know where they really want to live and what they can afford, they have to be ready to see new listings right away and ready to draft offers if they like what they see.

The Catch-22 in the real estate market today is that there are many sellers out there who would like to sell, but have nowhere to move to due to the lack of inventory, so they stay where they are and wait. Unfortunately this keeps the inventory tight in a market where demand is great.

Interest rates jumped a little this week, and many buyers are worried about the rumors that they will rise significantly in July. This is yet another reason for them to start searching for homes, which circles back to the low inventory levels.

Coming Soon! houses seem to be on the rise. I mean homes that have signed listing agreements but are not yet on the MLS. Agents put “Coming Soon!” signs in front to alert neighbors and those who drive by, creating excitement. Since I just had clients sign a listing and the tenants won’t be be out for about a week (and then another week for new flooring and paint)…I thought “what a great way to let the neighbors know this home will soon hit the market!” so I tried it. We’ll see what happens.

The bottom line is that the real estate market is strong in most areas, from what I have heard and read lately. Of course, as always I advise you to consult with a local area real estate agent before buying or selling a home. It seems that we have definitely climbed out of the doldrums and that the market has sprung back, so if you are thinking of purchasing or selling a home you should be in a good position to make that decision.

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Open Letter To Listing Agents

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

Dear Listing Agent,

Have you asked yourself whether you are truly representing your sellers to the best of your abilities? There may be other agents who would argue that you are not doing so. Maybe you do not like your job or are overwhelmed (in which case, you need to make some changes, get some help, or get out), or maybe you just need a little advice. The most important way to get that home sold is to make sure you do the following: th-1

1. Be courteous to buyers’ agents. This is a business built on COOPERATION. In fact, without it no homes would sell. With that in mind I have to tell you that you need to be nice and respectful to buyers’ agents. If you are rude, non-responsive, curt or make snide remarks to other agents who may sell your listing, then you are not adequately representing your seller.

2.  Answer your phone/return calls. If I had a dollar for every time I have called a listing agent and that person did not get back to me for a long time, I would have a lot of money saved. Many agents do not answer their phones on the weekend (hello? Does your seller know this?), which is precisely when many buyers are out there looking at homes. I have had buyers want to write offers but needed questions answered, and the listing agent was nowhere to be found. If you cannot answer your phone then you need to forward the calls to someone who can.

3.  Make buyers’ agents and their clients feel welcome. This may be similar to #1 above, but there are actually agents who come to the showings and hang around, making buyers feel uncomfortable. I recently had this happen. When we came back for a second showing the agent stepped out, but made some comments to me later about how long my clients stayed at the property that I felt were rude. (Obviously they were deciding whether it would work – the property needed a lot of updating and was over priced, but they liked it and wanted to be sure. I would rather that happen then instead of once we were in contract).

4.  Make sure your listing is easy to access. I know it can’t be helped sometimes, but listings that require 24 hours notice or have crazy viewing times make it difficult for buyers. Many buyers work during the day and want to see properties after work or on the weekends. The easier the home is to see, the more opportunities for your seller.

The bottom line is that listing agents need to be present and involved with their listings. I am sure sellers in most cases are not aware when their agent is not cooperating/being rude, etc. I am also sure that if sellers knew these things, there are a handful of listing agents who would not get many listings.

The most important thing to keep in mind when listing a property is that you owe a FIDUCIARY duty to your sellers – if you are not representing them in the best capacity possible then you are breaching that duty. Please, consider your actions and always remember to treat other agents with the respect they deserve. It will benefit all parties in the long run and you will have a solid reputation (within the community and with other agents) as a listing agent.


Buyers’ agents


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Buyers Beware: You May Not Be Able to See All Active Listings Any Longer

Monday, April 6th, 2015

For the last few years buyers have been able to search on their own for properties for sale in any area via third party websites – the biggest being, Zillow and Trulia, among thousands of others. Recently Zillow and Trulia merged (Zillow acquired Trulia), and that set in motion some big problems with MLS downloads to such sites ( is NOT affected, as it is controlled by the National Association of Realtors). th

How third party sites get listings from the many MLS sites has always been an issue, and there are even brokers who choose not to have their listings advertised on such sites (a shame though, because the consumer likely is not aware of this and may be missing out on some active listings…a very good reason why all buyers should have an agent representing them – but I digress).

One of the largest suppliers of information to the third party websites was not able to negotiate with Zillow and therefore will no longer be sharing syndicated MLS information with Zillow and Trulia starting April 7. There are other means by which brokers can have their listings shared on these sites, but they have to opt into them and many are either not aware or have not done so.

What does this mean to the millions of people who use these sites to search properties? It means that they may not see ALL the listings in the areas they are searching…which means that they may miss out on properties that they may have been interested in seeing and/or purchasing.

This mess will work itself out in time – it will have to. But the best advice I have for anyone shopping or following the real estate market is to HIRE A LOCAL AGENT. He or she can set up a search for you directly through the corresponding MLS, so that you get listings sent to you directly from the MLS as soon as they list (which will be quicker than you would receive them via any third party site anyway).

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Happy Passover and Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 4th, 2015

I hope everyone has a wonderful Passover and Easter! Whatever you are doing and wherever you are, my wish for you is that you are surrounded by those you love. Enjoy!

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San Diego Calendar of Events for April 2015

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015



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Carlsbad On Track to Become Premier SoCal Shopping Destination

Monday, March 30th, 2015

Carlsbad is already known for it’s many attributes, including beautiful beaches and lagoons, hiking and biking trails, natural preserves and the Flower Fields, and yes, great shopping and dining. Popular shopping places like the Premium Outlets and the upscale Forum shops beckon many locals and tourists, but there are some future shopping projects that will draw even more shoppers to the area down the road. th

Westfield Shopping Mall Transformation: The Westfield shopping mall at the northernmost part of the city has been undergoing some changes already – including the addition of a new Regal Cinema and 24-Hour Fitness. The next phase will convert the greatly outdated indoor mall into an outdoor shopping experience, with the addition of many new stores and restaurants, including Panera, Luna Grill, Peet’s Coffee and a fish grill.

Restaurant tenants are expected to start moving in late this summer, but the conversion of the mall to an outdoor mall will not be completed until possibly early 2017. Construction will begin after the 2015 holiday season.

The Caruso Project: Also exciting is the news that down the road Carlsbad will have a new shopping experience that may mirror L.A.’s outdoor mall The Grove (same owners), with upscale shopping and dining in a beautiful setting close to the beach and lagoon. The proposed project will occupy the 50 acre site that currently houses the strawberry fields at the northeast corner of Cannon Road and interstate 5, but will not likely be completed for about 10 years (much to my teenage daughter’s dismay). The owners are the same company who own The Grove. While this project has not been officially announced to the public, many are aware and some local residents have been assisting with planning efforts.

For those who already know just how wonderful Carlsbad is, there will soon be a few more things to place on the list of things to do here in our amazing city.


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New Supreme Court Ruling May Impact Short Sales

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

The latest case on the Supreme Court docket could affect the number and difficulty of future short sales, so if you are short selling, purchasing/planning to purchase a short sale, or if you are an agent who may be selling one, please read on. dreamstime_6795077

In Bank of America v. Caulkett, the Supreme Court will soon rule as to whether a borrower has the right to void a second lien through bankruptcy when his home is not worth the value of the first mortgage. In simpler terms, if you have two loans and file bankruptcy, and your home is not worth the amount of the first mortgage (say you owe $500,000 on the first loan and $100,000 on a second loan, and your home is worth $450,000), filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy would allow you to void the second loan. The home could then be sold via short sale and the second lienholder would get nothing and have no rights to intervene.

Back during the short sale wave of 2008-2011 many second lienholders were successfully able to block negotiated bankruptcy settlements that benefitted the borrowers and first mortgage holders; thus many short sales fell through, and those homes eventually ended up going into foreclosure. When the economy worsened many of these foreclosure proceedings got pushed to the back burner and homeowners stayed in their homes for long periods of time, even years, without paying anything. This led to damaged and neglected homes, and in some parts of the U.S. entire neighborhoods deteriorated. This of course resulted in cost increases for taxpayers and the bank bailout.

Not long after this all started many first lienholders began to offer small sums to the second lienholders (usually about $10,000) in exchange for their blessing on the short sales, and this became standard practice. But not all second lienholders acquiesce. If they are now given the legal right to block these agreements in bankruptcy it could create problems that would be passed along to taxpayers.

Two of the Justices – Kennedy and Sotomayor – have indicated that they do not think it fair that a second lienholder would be able to hold hostage a bankruptcy settlement reached by the borrower and first lienholder.

Keep an eye on this case and the outcome, which should be decided in June, especially if you are a homeowner in this situation, a short sale buyer or an agent who sells short sales. The decision could affect short sales as we know them…stay tuned.

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LaMar Real Estate Welcomes Eduardo Padilla

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

LaMar Real Estate is pleased to announce that Eduardo Padilla is now a Realtor Associate. Eduardo has been working as a real estate and referral agent in Arizona and California for 10 years and has great people skills. He is intelligent, dedicated, detail-oriented and quite possibly the friendliest person you will ever meet. Eduardo pic

Eduardo is a welcome addition to LaMar Real Estate, and his presence will allow us to continue to stay true to our mission to help buyers and sellers in the best way possible, with service that is second to none and a focus on every detail – because real estate professionals should offer experience, patience, dedication and the benefit of a brokerage with legal perspectives.

Congratulations to Eduardo Padilla and welcome! Please help us welcome him and make him feel at home in the North San Diego real estate community.

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5 Steps to Determine the Validity of that List Price

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

There are many buyers out there who do not know how to read and understand recent comparable sold properties (there are also many agents in the same boat, so if you are a buyer do not feel bad). Of course, if you are working with a real estate agent who is familiar with the neighborhood(s) where you are focusing your home buying search, then that agent will be able to help you understand how to sort through the comps and come to a valid price so that you can write an offer. house_question

The problem is that oftentimes agents may not be intimately familiar with a neighborhood (i.e. they do not themselves know why some homes have lower sales prices than others), so it is up to the agent to really do some research. Here are the steps to follow so that you know whether that asking price is in fact valid:

1.  Print out all recent sales in the last 6 months in the area. If there are none then your agent will need to go outside the neighborhood to find similar homes – those that have amenities and other features that are comparable to the home you are thinking of purchasing. If there are still none then s/he will need to find some that may have more or less to offer, and then weigh the factors to come to a reasonable price.

2.  Speak with the listing agent. Every agent should place a call or visit to the listing agent whenever there is a question about value. The listing agent is the one who listed the home at that price, so the best place to start is with that person. Your agent needs to ask what comps were used to decide on a list price (in cases where it is not obvious – if you are looking in a tract neighborhood and there are 5 homes that have all sold in the same range then it is usually clear). If the listing is in a neighborhood where homes have sold across a wide value range, then you need to understand why.

justice-scales3.  Call the listing agents who sold the comparable homes. You can often get even more information this way that you may never have been able to see in photos or a virtual tour. For example, I just listed a home in a neighborhood where there is a discrepancy amongst recent comparable prices. I happen to know the neighborhood well (I live there), but a potential buyer’s agent called to ask me about the comps (I had sold a few of them) and I happen to know a lot about them and why they sold at the prices they did. I drafted an analysis on all the sold properties, and this was a big help to the agent and his clients. When I am representing a buyer in that same situation I ask for the same thing – at least a verbal analysis if someone is not willing to draft one (I of course take notes and then draft it up for my clients).

4.  Understand that “price per square foot” is not the sole focus. If you look only at price per square foot and there are comps all over the place, you may be under-or over-valuating the home you are considering. There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration – location, upgrades, condition (even upgraded homes can be poorly maintained, and vice versa), amenities, views, lot size, and negative factors (noise, high traffic areas, hazard zones, etc.) Even two identical homes in the same community can have vastly different prices depending on the factors mentioned. You really need to get more information to understand the discrepancies before progressing. Always remember that every home has it’s own resume and story to tell, so just because another model match sold for a particular price does not mean that the same price applies to the home you are considering.

5.  Make a chart or comparison table to understand the comparable properties. You can include features that are positive and negative, and you can then compare them to the subject property (the one you are thinking about purchasing). Seeing it on paper can really help many buyers to understand differences and feel better about making an offer that will appraise (if you are getting a loan), and that makes sense in light of the other homes that have sold nearby.

In the end it is common knowledge that those who have more information are better informed to make big decisions. Since buying a home is one of those big decisions it is imperative to do your homework. Find a smart, experienced agent in the area(s) you like and use them to help you get to the point where you feel comfortable with the values in an area by heeding the above advice. That is their job. Happy house hunting!

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