Category Archives: Home Buying

Love Letter to Seller – Does it Make a Difference?

Does it make a difference for a buyer to write and include a personal letter with an offer?  I jokingly call them love letters, because they can ooze with emotion and sometimes be kinda cheesy.

letter

Over the years, working with home buyers, I’ve been an advocate for the buyer writing a personal letter to the owner.  One might wonder if this even makes a difference?  I got my real estate license in 2005 and wrote my first offer on the house I’m living in today.  During those days, buying a home was extremely competitive and the prices were going through the roof.  A buyer had to do whatever they could to get an offer accepted.  So, I too wrote a “letter from the heart” on my first deal as a licensed agent.  It was flowery, heart-warming, and true – we loved the house (and still do!).  The seller subsequently told us that this separated our offer from the others, especially the part where you said, “[your child] immediately ran into the back yard and jumped on the play structure.”  Hmmm, I instantly learned, there’s something to this letter writing thing.

Subsequently, I’ve had many of the same experiences with other clients.  Just recently I listed a home where we received 3 offers.  One of them included a personal letter.  To my surprise the seller said, “I know that this one is lower in price, and you might think we are crazy, but we just love this buyer’s story and want to go with that offer!”

Try this with an investment property and the owner may laugh out loud.  I’ve actually had investor sellers tell me to not show them the personal letters because they didn’t want to be influences by their emotions.  This statement nails it on the head… We are humans with emotions.  Even though every seller wants the most money out of their sale, there is always the human element and emotions involved.

“What should I say in the letter?” is the next questions I get.  While I enjoy writing, not everyone is as confident with their prose.  Here are some suggestions.

  • Make it short and to the point – most people don’t want to read several pages on your life and journey of buying a home. Several paragraphs get the job done.
  • With that said, introduce yourself. Briefly say who you are and maybe something interesting that relates to the home.  Example:  We love the river and are so glad it’s in walking distance! OR,  This home is close enough for me to bike to work – this is so relieving since I’ve been commuting by car for 8 years, an hour each way! OR, I’ve always loved trains and always wanted to live next to the railroad tracks [I kid you not, I actually heard someone say this!]
  • You may even want to start by complimenting the owner in some way, without being heavy handed. Example:  When we walked into the house, we immediately knew this was the one for us!  Purple is our favorite color and we absolutely love the stenciled lettering above the bed, that reads, “YOU ARE AWESOME!”  The deal was done when we saw the bidet in the bathroom – ahhh to be back in Paris again!  Okay, I’m trying to be funny here and this is an example of heavy-handedness, but you get the point.   When done appropriately, a little flattery goes a long way.  How about this:  We love your sense of style and can tell you really cared for this house.
  • Briefly talk about how this house fits you. Do you have a family that you will raise here and enjoy it for years to come?  Is your elderly mom going to live with you and the downstairs bedroom is perfect?  Are you single, and this downtown loft is a “babe magnet?”  [okay don’t say that].
  • End with a “thank you for considering our offer.  And, we look forward to a smooth transaction.

What else would you include or omit?  Do you have success stories of your own, or maybe a reason why not to include a personal letter?  Your stories and feedback are always welcome.

Cheers!

Keith Klassen, Real Estate Broker – 916.595.7900

 

New Development in Curtis Park, Sacramento

Yeah, I know what you were hoping for… an article about Curtis Park rail yard development.  Sorry not on this one – no chit chat about gas station wars and dollar stores.  Instead I’m inviting you to follow my own development experience as I build out two houses.  I hope to post some thoughts on the grueling process of splitting the lot / sub-dividing the parcel map.  Could be educational to some – loads of learning from my mistakes and experience.  I’ll be talking about the ins and outs of the scope of work, contracting, and architectural plans.  I’d love some feedback on the design elements when we get to the interior (yeah, everyone loves the interior – this is the sexy part).  Ultimately, these babies will be sold and I will be high-fiving my contractor and business partner.  Welcome to my housing development journey.house rendering

Brief background

If you live in the area, you can check out the progress on 5th Ave., highway 99 frontage road, and Portola Alley.  I bought the house on 5th Ave. in 2008 and got the approval to subdivide the parcel later that year into 3 lots (original house sits on one, leaving 2 to build on).  Oh yes, it came with conditions.  I figured a budget of $25,000 to do curb and gutter work and maybe a few other things.  The City gave me a laundry list of improvements that got bid out between $100,000-125,000 – Yikes!  That killed the deal quickly.  So for the next six years I paid a portion of the property taxes and kept the weeds down.

5th ave overview pic

Fast forward to 2014… I saw a house sell for a decent price on the alley and knew it was time to build.  I got a contractor on board to share the project and do the work at cost (cutting the improvement work cost more than half).

Contact me if you want to discuss the boring, but essential ins and outs of engineering, special use permits, bonding, traffic plans, dealing with the City/fighting with the City (everyone has their war stories), utilities, etc.

We’ve begun improvement work – manholes, water main, sewer main, fire hydrant, and much more!  At the same time I’ve got an architect putting plans together and submitting to the Design Review Board.  In addition, I just got bids from five structural engineers and Title 24 bids.  Yay, getting serious.

lot clearing

Scrubbing the lot earlier 2016

 

“Man holes” – or should I be PC and call them “people holes” – might get a few weird looks?

 

Dropping the “hole” in the ground

Jimmy is the MAN!

Never thought I’d be so exited about a fire hydrant.

Water main beginnings.

Stay tuned for the next phase.

Cheers,

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Keith Klassen, Real Estate Broker / 916.595.7900

Curtis Park Villiage (Sacramento) is Becoming a Reality

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After years of debate, soil treatment, neighborhood meetings, planning and develop the Curtis Park Village is now in full swing.  Twenty fourth Street is now  open to drive through, and unbuilt/pre-release homes have hit the market.  These stylish “cottage” homes (as they are referred to on the listings) have 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths and range from 1790 to  2163 sq. ft., with options of a den, 4th bedroom, and one car or tandem garage.  They are listed from $564,990 to $609,990.

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One of my first thoughts was, “I wonder at what rate will that sell?  Are they going to go like hot cakes, or sit there with  price adjustments, etc.  Currently one has already gone pending, which is a good sign that they are a hot commodity.  It clear that first-comers will get choices of location, different options and amenities, and maybe will get in on the lowest price?  If the sell fast, those prices could go up!

Leave a comment or give me a call if interested and I can forward you the listings, or set up an appointment with the sellers for  more in depth information about the properties.

Truly,

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Keith Klassen, Broker

916.669.9030

Appraiser Kills Another Deal

[in a very sarcastic tone of voice]

I love spending uncountable hours searching the internet, showing many properties, counseling the buyer, writing a contract (with many revisions), coordinating with the lender/loan officer, scheduling and attending multiple inspections, re-showing the property, counseling the client, meeting for lunch and coffee multiple time to sign disclosures and paperwork, running numbers, Negotiating repairs, etc., etc., etc., …. ONLY TO BE KILLED BY AN APPRAISAL THAT COMES IN $16,000 UNDER THE CONTRACT PRICE.  This killed the deal for both the seller and buyer.  It is not a flip, short sale, or bank owned.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and I excel in these situations, but this is ridiculous!

[in a serious tone of voice]

Here are some of the wonderful aspect of the property…

New paint (inside and out); Newer roof; New electrical and plumbing; Renovated kitchen and bathroom; Newer central heat and air; Double size lot; Historic built-in china cabinet; New front door; Several new windows; Section 1 and 2 of pest report to be cleared, and more!

Yes, this property happens to be in Oak Park, Sacramento, but most all knowledgeable appraisers and agents know that Oak Park is “street by street.”  I personally know several of the residents on this street.  Comparing this home to homes a mile away does not do the home justice.

I am coming to believe that this area is being redlined.

Again, my question stands:  When will the market drive the market oppose to appraiser and bank practices?

Enjoy,

Keith Klassen – Real Estate Broker

916.669.9030

One Fortunate Buyer in Sacramento CA

I just closed a deal that could not have gotten much better for the buyer.

1) She was paying $1700 in rent for a decent unit in Midtown (but, still a lot of money).  the buyer got into contract for $122,750 on a 1890’s Victorian home (just what she dreamed about!).  Here housing payments were going to be about $730/month.

2) We got into contract before April 30, 2010 as to qualify for the Federal Tax Credit of $8000.

3) We closed after May 1, 2010 so to qualify for the $10,000 Tax Credit from the State.

4) The appraisal came back at a value of $105,000, so the seller was compelled to come down to that price. Now her payments will drop below $650/month!

Let’s do the math… About $18,000 savings on the purchase price (with a lower deposit amount), $18,000 in tax incentives – that’s a nice, quick $36,000.

5) The home inspection came back very clean and the pest inspection had minor work needed.  A few bonuses:  We found out that the foundation was redone at some point in the last 10 years; The roof was only about 1-year-old; There is hardwood underneath the laminate overlay, which is part of the buyer’s dream too!

Congratulations Laila!  I look forward to champagne this afternoon.

Enjoy,

Keith Klassen – Real Estate Broker

916.669.9030

Housing Tax Credits

Quick run down…

The Federal Government is offering and has extended an $8000 tax credit through the end of this month.  Home buyers need to be in contract on a home by April 30, 2010 and close escrow by June 30, 2010.

Many of my clients have asked how they get the credit once they close.  Go to this website, which will answer most all of your questions – http://www.federalhousingtaxcredit.com/home.html

OR

just click here

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California Housing Tax Credit

Up to (key phrase) $10,000 tax credit from the State of California for first-time home buyers, who purchase a home after May 1, 2010.  A few qualifications:

– The money is credited over 3 years ($3,333/year) for taxable income.

– The money ($100M) will run out.  While the programs runs through the end of December 2010, some are predicting toward mid-August it will be gone!

Here is site to visit for questions and how to claim this incentive – Ftb.ca.gov

Enjoy,

Keith Klassen – Real Estate Broker

916.669.9030

Home in Escrow – Oak Park Victorian!

I just got into contract with one of my clients on this property in Oak Park.  It’s a fantastic 1890’s Victorian.

We just did the home and pest inspection yesterday.  I love days like this when the nspections moves forward without any big surprises.  I say this because every home has issues, especially ones built-in the late 1800’s.

Can you believe this home, in a decent part of Oak Park, in reasonable condition, is selling for a little over $100,000?  The home inspector asked if it is on slab or has a crawl space… I said “neither.  It’s a walk space!”  This basement (well it’s above ground) has at least 9 foot high ceilings!  My first thought when I viewed the property was, finish this out and double your square footage!

I was shocked with how little dry rot there was, plus a new foundation (no bricks) and an almost-new roof!

Check out the pics.

Keith Klassen – Real Estate Broker

916.669.9030