For Professionals of the Probate and Trust Industry

Tag: Probate

Real Estate 911!  Wow, what a hustle!

It was exactly 4 weeks ago when I received a call from a probate attorney… “I need you to find me an investor. There’s a probate property in Garden Grove, and it’s also in foreclosure… the trustee sale is scheduled for 4/15. Let’s get moving and get this one sold quickly.”

I dropped everything and got in the car. I arrived in Garden Grove. It was a cute little house, but lots of construction material in the driveway and overgrown vegetation.  I opened the front door and there were boxes everywhere, personal items, construction materials, and tools lying around.

The owners unfortunately passed away, both husband and wife. The husband was in the middle of renovating the home, but never got to finish it. The kitchen countertops were missing, as well as the backsplash. The pool was emptied many months ago and now there was green algae floating in dark waters. The yard was overgrown with weeds. And more…

I picked up the phone and called my Orange County general contractor. He was in the middle of working on a project and was stationed only 20 minutes away. He dropped everything and came over. I explained the urgency of this project. 

Within 24 hours I had a bid, and it was approved by my client, the estate’s administrator, who was surprised and mumbled, “wow…I really appreciate the hustle”.  The contractor agreed to have his multiple crews work on this project to expedite. 

We took a phased approach. We placed the property on the market with a front view of the home only, immediately. Within three days yard work was completed and additional yard photos were uploaded. Our contractor had 40+ people working on the home that week to finish things quickly.  We scheduled 3 Open Houses for that first Sunday, when work was not totally completed as of yet.  The contractor’s team couldn’t finish their work that Sunday and had to leave early, since the house was packed with at least 50 people during each of the Open Houses. 

Within seven days construction was completed and the pool was a beautiful turquoise blue!  By now we had complete professional photos including aerial views, a 3D tour, and the marketing video. And, 82 offers!

How did we stop the trustee sale? We learned that a payment would reinstate the loan and stop the trustee sale. So I advanced the necessary funds to reinstate the loan and confirmed that the trustee sale was cancelled.  We were all relieved.

I issued the buyer with the top offer a counter that provided her with 24 hours to inspect the property, and then have buyer remove all contingencies, if buyer was still interested in proceeding. The buyer’s agent complained that she needs 3 days… 4 days to inspect.  I told her to stop wasting time and complaining and instead, get on the phone with her inspector to schedule inspections.  She pushed on her end and got an inspection scheduled for the next morning.   Within 24 hours inspections were completed and all buyer contingencies were removed, and we opened escrow. 

Escrow is scheduled to close in 2 weeks.  We went under contract with a price at the top of the comps – the price escalated to market value as it always does.  The property was priced low, as we were not sure how much time we had to market the property and go under contract and whether we would be able to stop the trustee sale. Stay tuned for the sales price… to be disclosed once escrow closes.  Check out the “before and after” video, as well as the marketing video for this beautiful property, with the quickest renovation turnaround time in the history of my 18 year real estate career of being a Broker:

Before and After:

Completed Renovation in just 7 days:

Should you hire a real estate broker, even if the neighbor wants to buy your house?

Should you hire a real estate broker, even if the neighbor wants to buy your house? Is it really worth it to pay a real estate commission? Many times homes are sold off-market, to the neighbor, or a friend of a friend… sellers feel it makes good sense – save money on the commission!

Last week I sold a property in West Covina – a Trust sale. I made my recommendations and my team got to work, making minor repairs, replacing doorknobs and light fixtures, a thorough cleaning, yard cleanup and manicuring, and then staged it. My recommendation to my client was not to waste money on renovating the kitchen and bathrooms – staging would create a huge appeal that would draw attention away from the outdated tiled kitchen and bathrooms.

I got the property ready for market in one week, and waited my usual 10 day period to expose the property to the market. We got 19 offers, over asking price. One of the offers was from the neighbor across the street. We made a request for highest and best from all buyers, and the neighbor was in the top two, increasing the purchase price by $90K. I then picked up the phone and negotiated with the top two offers, and was able to bring up the neighbor by another $20K, and, the buyer agreed to remove all their contingencies. Property was listed at $849,900 and sold for $990,000! That’s $408/sf, while the highest sold comp is at $387/sf and is completely renovated with new bathrooms and kitchen. My client is thrilled. Presentation is critical. So is negotiations and that extra push and effort by your agent.  Our services are available throughout California.  Check out the property below:

My Vendor (he) – Your Vendor (me)

I have a vendor that specializes in the complete remodeling of homes that I use again and again and again.  He does a fantastic job.

I have never calculated how much business he has received from me this year, last year, or the year before.

I never calculated how much money he is making on projects.

I do not know his home address, nor do I know how large his home is, and if he has a 2nd home, or other investment properties.

I never think about limiting the amount of business I send his way, because he is too successful. 

I only have two questions for him each time I want to help my clients with a renovation:

  1. Can you handle another renovation right now?
  2. Can you do it in this town or that city?

He almost always replies with:

  1. Sure, I can
  2. Sure, I can

And he gets the business.

If I am not your vendor yet, try me. You will see there is more than the four books I wrote and an ongoing contribution to the CEB.

If you tried me and realized I am good, will you let me handle your next listing, or will you calculate how much I am making and where I live, and then turn to a different agent that may end up delivering less optimal results?

Sold in 3 Days! Wow!

I see agents boasting about selling a property in one, two, or three days. And some people think this is impressive. 

After nearly 20 years in the business, I still do not understand what there is to boast about.

Is it not better to give the property the proper exposure and leave it active on the market for 10 days or so, and have at least two open houses (on consecutive weekends)?

Do we not want to give properties time on the market to expose them to as many buyers as possible?

Is it not better to create competition among buyers by waiting to have a multiple-offer situation? 

If the property remains on the market long enough this can easily result in competition among buyers with a multiple-offer situation, which results in increasing the purchase price as high as possible, as it does in bidding wars.

Real Estate Strategy For You?

This past week I had two closings – a Probate sale requiring a NOPA in Lancaster, and a Trust sale requiring a NOPA in Lomita. 

The administrator of the Lancaster sale is located in Northern California, and requested “full service”.  I had my vendor clear out the property, do a sales clean and carpet shampoo within a few days, and we got the property on the market.

The PPF, acting as trustee for the Lomita property requested the same level of service.  My vendor completed a trashout, sales clean, and did some yard cleanup and landscaping to increase the curb appeal. 

Both properties sold above market value.  These properties were both outdated, and both sold to owner-occupants, at values equivalent to renovated properties in the immediate neighborhood.     They were clean and they smelled pleasant, so the buyers could envision themselves making the renovations slowly, based on their vision and preferences.

Both of these buyers did not request any repairs, credit, or price reductions from the seller.

It was smooth sailing.  The beneficiaries of both sales all consented to the NOPA.  Everyone was happy.

Why didn’t the buyers speak up after the inspection, and use their strategy to request a repair, and then, agree to a price reduction in lieu of that repair?

That’s because before I had the sellers accept their offer, I requested to have a call with the buyer’s agent and the buyer, and I anchored that discussion.  I told them both that I need to set the seller’s expectations at this stage, and ensure we’re all on the same page.  If there are any requests for repairs, or credits, or price reductions, the seller will simply move on to the next buyer, and there are many other buyers interested in the property.  Both buyers confirmed they understand, and from that moment on… they both performed beautifully!

This strategy is just one strategy I’ve developed over the years to ensure I deliver a seamless and easy sales process for my clients while obtaining the highest possible purchase prices for the properties I’m selling.

Some clients believe agents need to specialize in a localized geographic market, because they have their finger on “the pulse” of that market, or they “own that market”.   Other clients believe agents specialize in a particular style of property, say mid-century modern, and only hire agents with that specialization when they have a property to sell.  Don’t buy into this! It’s just a marketing gimmick an agent uses for personal branding.

As a real estate broker who has been doing this up and down California for almost two decades, first representing financial institutions, and later representing fiduciaries exclusively, I can tell you that the most important attributes of the agent you hire are their negotiations skills and their contract knowledge, and that, an agent obtains with lots of transactional experience.  Doesn’t matter where they’re located, and whether they have their pulse on the local market.  If the agent has transactional experience, the agent knows how to market real property, and how to evaluate any given market with the tools at hand. 

Just some tips on what to consider next time you need to hire a real estate agent to sell your property.  Ask the agent you’re considering how many properties they’ve sold in the past year, and, how many they’ve sold since they became licensed.  That will tell you how experienced the agent is.   You should also ask what the agent’s role is in the sale.  Some agents are hands-off and are not as involved in the sales process – they have a team that handles every step of the process, and the listing agent is busy seeking the next listing. Sure, the transaction will close, but had your agent been more engaged and utilized strategies to act in your best interest, perhaps you would have avoided issuing a price reduction to a demanding buyer, and, perhaps you would have been able to obtain a higher purchase price if your agent was proactive and pushed the buyers to offer more, and more.

Food for thought.

Shabbat in the Probate Industry

I keep Shabbat. It is a Jewish Holiday! Once a week!

It is a critical part of being a Jew. Well, some of us Jews think so. Most do not. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion of course. Everyone is entitled to their own path.

I love Shabbat, for many reasons, as well as this one: It is an opportunity to escape the high-paced business I run. We are always available to our clients. There is no such thing as 9 to 5 in real estate, and certainly not in our business. We communicate with buyers, sellers, our contractors, and other vendors at 6am, and we communicate with them at 11pm and anytime in between.

It is therefore wonderful to escape it all for 26 hours or so. No work. No meetings. No driving to properties. No laptop. No cell phone. No zoom. From about an hour before Sunset each Friday to about one hour after Sunset each Saturday, I am away from it all. And it is a wonderful thing to be able to focus on rest… and family… and the meaning of it all.

And what about you? Jew or not a Jew… if you feel like you need a break… you know what to do…!