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Aimee and Angel

Use your Tax Return to take years off your Mortgage

Use your Tax Return to take years off your Mortgage

T-minus 38 days and counting until the IRS deadline for filing Tax Returns.

With the various credits and deductions related to housing, children, and retirement contributions, most people we know are fortunate enough to receive a sizable return every year. I'm always curious to see where people spend their tax refund.

Does the money go to pay down debt, fund the next family vacation, or finance the bathroom


I always encourage clients, friends, and family to make an extra mortgage payment once that refund arrives.  I'll be the first to admit it doesn't seem very glamorous or exciting to make an extra mortgage payment.   Why would anyone do that when they could spend the week on a tropical beach in an exotic locale?  There's no instant gratification in making an extra mortgage payment, no box that arrives with Amazon Prime tape, and no girls weekend in the City.

You make the payment and then move on.  The reward may not come until much later, but I promise it will be sweet.  You see, making ONE extra payment a year will save you about FOUR+ years in mortgage payments.

Let's break down the basic math.

Assume you have a $500,000 30 year mortgage with a 4.0% interest rate. Your payment is about $2,387 a month. Make one extra payment with your tax refund and you will reduce your mortgage by 4 years, 2 months and save over $58,000 in interest.

Now what would you do with an extra 4 years of NO mortgage payments?

A Tale of Elderly Abuse and Fraud

A Tale of Elderly Abuse and Fraud

Working in a line of business where it's a necessity to have your cell phone number plastered all over signs, newspapers, and the internet can lead to some pretty interesting phone calls. 

Earlier this month, I received a phone call from a gentleman located in Idaho. He identified himself as a 2nd cousin of an elderly lady who lived in Santa Cruz County. This gentleman, who I'll refer to as Mr. Smith, represented that this lady, who I'll refer to as Mrs. Jones, was like an "Aunt" to him.

Mr. Smith began telling me that he was going to help Mrs. Jones sell her property, valued upwards of $1.1 million dollars, so she could downsize into a smaller home and have some cash on hand to help with medical expenses.

My impression of Mr. Smith was not high after listening to him for a couple minutes. I think Mr. Smith thought of himself as a smooth talker; but what ended up coming out was a convoluted idea of how he thought I should help Mrs. Jones sell her home but never actually meet with her. In the end, of course, Mr. Jones thought he was entitled to 7-10% of the proceeds that could be wired to him directly for his "role" in facilitating the sale.

Nothing felt good about the situation Mr. Smith was describing. I tried explaining to him how our marketing works, the care that we have for our clients and the importance of placing his Aunt's property on the local area MLS.  Mr. Smith was insistent we procure and represent the buyer and sell the property off market for $1.1 million even though "it is worth much more than that." I couldn't explain to Mr. Smith enough how that was a serious disservice to Mrs. Jones.

By now, my internal alarm bells are ringing. Mr. Smith hasn't given me an address and gently evades the topic when I repeatedly ask, but eventually he gives me his Aunt's name.  He ends the phone call with lots of encouragement, saying he's confident I will get the job done because he's chosen meafter all.   He plans to email me pictures of the estate so I can get promptly to work and find a buyer.

Angel and I had lengthy conversations about the absurdity of what Mr. Smith was trying to do. 

Sell a property without ever actually meeting the seller? Not typical, but OK we've done it before with out-of-state clients.

Sell a property without ever having ANY contact with the seller and wire funds to a third party? I don't think so.

But the ultimate question: What if this is actually a real person and someone is trying to take advantage of her?  Surely, we must do something to alert this Mrs. Jones. The whole situation didn't sit right with me.

Mr. Smith was true to his word and did send me photos of what looked like a lovely gated, estate property with a pool, pool house, and wonderful views. Yes, I'm sure it was worth more than $1.1 million.

I decided to research Mrs. Jones and, sure enough, was able to locate a property that matched Mr. Smith's description.  Angel and I decided the right thing to do was to drive out to this estate and try to make contact with the owner to warn her of what Mr. Smith was trying to do.

Angel and I went out on a Friday morning, pulled up to the home and rang the gate multiple times. After about 10 minutes of no answer, I didn't feel right just leaving so I ventured over to the neighbor's house and asked if they knew Mrs. Jones. The neighbors, of course, were extremely skeptical of me when I explained why I was trying to reach Mrs. Jones.  I was asked to present identification and credentials.  Ultimately, though, I think the neighbors could see that I had nothing but good intentions and called Mrs. Jones.

It turns out Mr. Smith was actually related to Mrs. Jones and had recently visited from Idaho to help care for Mrs. Jones who was having health issues. But everything else Mr. Smith had represented was a lie. He was trying to take advantage of his own relative and commit what amounts to elderly abuse and fraud.

Mrs. Jones was, as to be expected, shocked and hurt by my recount of events. Nobody should ever hear that their own family is trying to steal from them.  The neighbors were appreciative of our efforts and asked if most other Real Estate Agents would have done the same thing. Angel and I explained that we can't speak for the rest of the Real Estate community, but for us, because of the high standard in which we operate our business and the genuine care we have for our clients, it wasn't an option to walk away and hope that nothing bad happened to Mrs. Jones.  We needed to make sure that nothing happened to Mrs. Jones.

It was a great way to start our 2016 out in a positive direction.

$5000 Closing Cost Assistance to Community Heroes

$5000 Closing Cost Assistance to Community Heroes

The Santa Cruz County Association of Realtors is proud to offer a new additional closing cost grant to local Community Heroes.

The Closing Cost/ Community Heroes Program will give an additional $2500 to those who qualify for the Program's Closing Cost Grant.

In summary, applicants must meet income requirements, live or work in Santa Cruz County, and not have owned property for the past 3 years to apply for the $2500 Closing Cost Grant.  An additional $2500 is available through the Community Heroes Program for police, firefighters, EMTs and Military/Veterans.

The Santa Cruz County Association of Realtors Housing Foundation is a local, non-profit that has offered financial assistance to income-restricted, first-time homebuyers. Their goal is simple: "Bridging the Gap to Homeownership."

Through individual and corporate donations, grants from the State Level, and creative fundraising, the non-profit has helped over 200 families achieve their goal of homeownership with funds totaling almost half a million dollars.


Angel and I are well versed in the available First Time Homebuyer Programs offered throughout Santa Cruz County. We look forward to sharing our wealth of information.

Santa Cruz's Disappearing Market: Where did the entry-level market go???

I'll make the argument that the entry-level market has disappeared. Gone are the days when young couples would buy their first condo, accumulate equity, and then move up into their first single family home.

According to the WSJ,  the "number of first-time home buyers [has fallen] to lowest level in three decades." The last time we saw first-time homebuyers represent a 32% share of the marketplace it was 1987.  Historically, this figure has averaged around 40%.

The biggest obstacles noted by would-be first time homebuyers are saving for a down payment and high student loan debt.  Santa Cruz's rapidly increasing rental rates have only compounded the issue; higher rents have made it more difficult to save.

Further aggravating the issue is the non-existent price difference between a condo and a home.

Yup, you heard me right. The gap in price between a condo and a home is almost non-existent.

Within Santa Cruz city boundaries the two lowest priced active homes are listed at $575,000 and $599,000. Both are two bedroom homes, under 1000 square feet in size. The lowest priced two bedroom condo is listed for $549,000. However, with the condo's $380 HOA fee, the monthly cost to own the condo is essentially the same as the single family home.

170 Everson Dr is a condo listed for $549,000. 
315 Button St has been on the market for 136 days. Listed for $599,000
Now, on one hand, I can see some readers jumping up and down for joy. This is good news.  Why buy a condo when you can have a house for the same price?!

On the other hand, the affordability factor (or lack of it) is alarming.

If you have the typical 20% down payment saved up ($120,000) and $0 debt, you would need a household income of about $100,000 to purchase a $599,000 property. The median household income for Santa Cruz is currently $62,755.

With property values rising so quickly, the entry-level market has essentially disappeared. Condos and townhomes alike have risen drastically in value. Their prices are competing with that of single family homes.

(On a side note, this is GREAT news for condo/townhome owners who bought when the units were still at entry-level market prices.)

Affordable Options are available

Santa Cruz City currently has Measure O in place, a voter-approved initiative to require developers to designate a certain number of new units as affordable housing units.  Recently, developer Bill Brooks had 2 units set aside in the new Delaveaga Park Home development on Sunny Ln in Prospect Heights.  There was a wait list of about 20 parties who were interested in purchasing an affordable housing unit. Likewise, the County has a similar initiative in place- Measure J.

2 Measure O homes sold for $393,451 while the other market rate homes sold for $735,000+

Angel and I are passionate about housing and have had great success working with buyers of all different incomes and budgets. Whether it's your first purchase or you're 10th, we hope you will contact us to see how we can find an affordable option that meets your lifestyle needs.

Aimee Thayer-Garcia is a Real Estate Broker Associate at Bailey Properties. She is Top-Producing Agent and practices Real Estate full time with her husband, Angel Garcia. Mom of 3.  831-435-9146.

"Anti-California" Stickers on For Sale Signs

Picture a place with coffee shops, breweries, restaurants and food carts.  Nearby ocean beaches offer the smell of salt air, sand between your toes, and crashing waves. Historical architecture lines the streets coupled with the latest in LEED buildings.  Liberal communities dotted with Gluten-Free, bicycle-friendly people and the endless offerings of State Parks, trails, and outdoor experiences.

I was NOT describing the Bay Area. I was describing Oregon.

As the median sales price in San Francisco has risen well above the million dollar mark and the median sales price in San Jose and surrounding Santa Cruz areas have topped $750,000, it's no wonder some Californian's are looking to the Pacific Northwest.

Seattle, after all, is home to Google, Amazon, HP, and Microsoft, AND the median sales price is only $350,000.

Major Price Difference: Portland vs. Bay Area

$350,000 in Santa Cruz will buy you a 2007 manufactured home in an age-restricted community (55+.) You don't even own the land.

On the other hand, $307,000 will buy you a 3 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom 2000+ square foot home with a partial basement on a 5,000 square foot lot.

800 Brommer St #2 sold for $340,000 in September
7219 SE Harold St, Portland, OR sold for $307,000 in October

So can you really blame Californian's for looking Northward to relocate? Climate is similar, the landscape is green and water isn't restricted. I don't think any people in Portland are leaving it mellow when yellow and flushing down when brown.

Oregon Backlash

I can only imagine that, with breaking hearts, those Californian's who are electing to make the move can at least ease their pain knowing they are headed to a land of similar culture, vibe, and lifestyle. Why wouldn't Portland welcome a mass exodus of hipsters, millennials and tech retirees with open arms?

Courtesy of Lori Fenwick

In recent weeks, stickers like this one have popped up on For Sale signs around Portland. The local real estate market is starting to experience bidding wars and properties selling for well above list price. Some local Realtors attribute the rising prices to historically low inventory levels and buyer frustration.  Does this scenario sound familiar?

As locals are being priced out of their own market, many are turning their frustration into blame.  Blame on Californians for their "mass exodus" and their single-handed responsibility for a pricing "bubble."

Change is inevitable. When you look around Santa Cruz now, it is not the same Santa Cruz it was 30 years ago.  Whether you agree or not with Portland locals and blame Californians for hiking up their local property values, what the heart of this story reminds me is that Real Estate is not just local, it's Global.

Aimee Thayer-Garcia is a Real Estate Broker Associate at Bailey Properties. She is Top-Producing Agent and practices Real Estate full time with her husband, Angel Garcia. Mom of 3.  831-435-9146.

WIN!!! $25,000 or a NEW CAR

It’s simple. It’s easy. There’s no catch.  

Purchase a ticket for $5 each or $25 for 6 tickets.

Top Prize is $25,000 or a 2015 Toyota Prius or Subaru Outback.

100% of the money from the tickets will go to local schools.  Any tickets you buy from us will go to benefit our kids school, Delaveaga Elementary.

Contact me to buy your tickets today. Hurry!  Ticket sales end October 18, 2015!!!

Drive for Schools is an annual Santa Cruz County schools fundraiser.  Thanks to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and the Capitola Auto Mall Dealership who have teamed up to sponsor the event and offer the top prizes of either $25,000 or a new 2015 Toyota Prius or 2015 Subaru Outback. There are ten additional $1,000 cash prizes and 100+ additional prizes donated by local businesses.

What would you do if you won?

Aimee Thayer-Garcia is a Real Estate Broker Associate at Bailey Properties. She is Top-Producing Agent and practices Real Estate full time with her husband, Angel Garcia. Mom of 3.  831-435-9146.

Multi Generational Households are on the Rise

The weekend birthday circuit. Need I say any more?

Once school starts, it’s only a matter of time before the invitations start coming home crumpled and wet at the bottom of their backpacks. 
Open House or Birthday Party???

There are a lot of tough choices for Angel and me when it comes to the weekend schedule. Who does the Open House and who takes the kids to the Birthday Party?  

Often we settle the matter with a good old-fashioned, reliable and very mature round of Ro-Sham-Bo.  (For the record, it’s always 2 out of 3 to win.)

As I’m enjoying the company of 3 other families at this last party, the conversation turns towards housing.  It’s a very common, and often heated, topic here in Santa Cruz.  Family A, B, & C all are 2-parent working households, with the average of 2.3 kids. All parents are gainfully employed.

The Families

Family A’s current situation is shared rental housing with a grandparent. Parents wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to live in this house without grandma’s financial contribution. Likewise, grandma wouldn’t be able to afford any rental or housing situation on her own. Rents and housing prices have just skyrocketed!

Family B owns their home. They were able to buy a starter home back in 2009, pre-kids, at the bottom of the market, and with a generous 20% down payment gift from their parents.  Family B has outgrown their home and wants to up-size but can’t make the numbers work without a significant contribution from their extended family again.

Family C's income doesn't keep
up with their $3000/month
rent payment

Family C is in a rental. 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, clean, safe neighborhood, nothing fancy.  Sometimes they struggle making the $3000 rent payment a month and have to ask for assistance from a set of parents to get them through the tougher months. 

The Question

I would be lying if I said these types of conversations or family circumstances were a first-time occurrence.  In fact, the housing affordability topic frequently comes up.  I hear about all kinds of living situations, family compounds, assistance, generous down payment gifts, properties being willed to grandkids.  I’ve heard it all. 

Through the course of these conversations, I usually offer some contribution to the discussion, pick a few brain’s, throw in a couple ideas, and then inevitably follow everyone else into the yard for cake and piñata.  There is no real concrete solution to offer.

What are people going to do to stay here in Santa Cruz?

The Numbers

755 14th Ave, Santa Cruz
Swan Lake Gardens
Measure J County Affordable Housing

If you look at the raw data, the median household income in Santa Cruz County is $67,000 (I’m rounding up.)  Based on that income, one might be able to qualify for a $300,000 loan.  That’s assuming great credit and no debt. Yet, the median value of owner-occupied housing is $557,500.  That’s a $250,000+ discrepancy.  Even if the family saved 25% of their income, it would take them 15+ years to save enough to bridge the gap between wages and housing values. 

Again, I come back to the same question. 

What are people going to do to stay here in Santa Cruz?


HOW are they going to do it?

So… How are they going to do it?

Upwards of 16% of the population are already living in multi-generational households.
One third of adult children expect to share a household at some point. Why? The 65+ population is expected to double.  Long term care costs continue to rise. Millennials are entering a shrinking workforce with increasing college debt. To name a few.

It's very common in other countries for grandparents to
live with their grown children and family.

Multi-Generational Households aren’t coming, they’ve already arrived.  

Listen at the next birthday party.  Ask about people’s current living set ups. Talk with me. I’ll tell you how homes with a "granny unit" are selling for a premium.  Duplexes are being snapped up before the first open house. Family compounds are IN! Buyers want to know where they can put in a guest unit or divide a large home into two separate living spaces. 

If you own a multi-unit property or family compound that you’ve outgrown, now is the time to consider selling. If you’re considering a multi-generational purchase, see me so we can come up with a serious strategy.  Housing costs are not going to go down. It’s time to talk about how to secure your future here in Santa Cruz. 

Aimee Thayer-Garcia is a Real Estate Broker Associate at Bailey Properties. She is Top-Producing Agent and practices Real Estate full time with her husband, Angel Garcia. Mom of 3.  831-435-9146.


Being able to give back to our home community has been a long-standing part of our long-term goals.

In the past, we've made contributions here and there to the Red Cross, American Cancer Society, local sports teams, and donated cash during fundraising drives. 

We've also been regular givers of our time- coaching teams, volunteering weekly at the school, and encouraging our children to join us in local fundraisers.

The goal, though, is to be able to give consistently, regularly and with abundance. At the start of this year, Angel and I made a commitment that for every home we closed we would donate a portion of the proceeds to local schools, with no maximum limit.  It didn't matter what price the home sold for, what our expenses were, or how much time we spent. We would give.

We've started 2015 at a $500 donation amount per sale, to be donated to a local school of the client's choice.  In 2014, we sold 22 homes so we are confident the regular, consistent donation will add up to an amount that can make a difference.

In order to spread the word, Angel has been going door-to-door in the Prospect Heights neighborhood.  He's knocked on about 200 doors so far and has received an overwhelmingly warm response from neighbors, friends, and fellow Delaveaga Elementary families. 

If you see Angel or myself out there, we'd love to say Hi. We're not coming by asking you to sell your house (unless you're interested, of course!)  We're coming by to ask for the community's support in helping spread the word. 

Spread the word, let your coworkers and friends know.  If you, or anyone you know is interested in buying or selling, their sale can help benefit local schools.  If they're already working with a Realtor, encourage them to ask their Realtor to make a contribution to local schools at close.

Give us a call.  We'd also love to hear of any other charities or organizations that would benefit from others giving back.

Aimee Thayer-Garcia is a Real Estate Broker Associate at Bailey Properties. She is Top-Producing Agent and practices Real Estate full time with her husband, Angel Garcia. Mom of 3.  831-435-9146.

The Bull$h!t of Being Busy

We are getting ready to bid farewell to a beautiful summer, usher the kids back to the daily grind of a school schedule, and gear up to throw ourselves into not one- but two!- soccer coaching gigs.  On top of that let’s not forget I also run a business. 

When I visualize Fall, I see nothing but a big, grey cloud of BUSY.  

A stressful juggling act of open houses, soccer games, and client showings.  There will be field trips, home inspections, appraisals, and PTC meetings.  

Perhaps it was the universe tapping me on the shoulder, but as I scrolled through my Facebook feed this week, I came across an article written by a Bay Area former classmate of mine, Jeffrey Chad Shiau.  The title caught my eye.  “The BullShit of Being Busy.”   

The title alone would make you pause, wouldn’t it?

I felt compelled to read it. Would I become enlightened and realize that I wasn’t so “busy” after all? Would this former classmate call me out on my own BullShit? Or would he reaffirm my own feeling that I really am flipping BUSY?!

As I read the Disclaimer:

“Before continuing, let me set one thing straight: if you are parents of three, juggling jobs/day care/school trips, then yes, you have all the right in the world to say, “I’m busy”.”

Hey…. I like this guy! He hit the nail on the head. See…. I am busy!

As I continue to read, there are some particular comments that strike a chord.

“Constantly barking, “Ugh, I’m so busy!” doesn’t make you cooler. It just stresses everyone out. ……  So why has this generation taken the course of constantly complaining and denouncing their own choices with, “I’m so busy,” instead of positively celebrating them with pride?”

There is a war going on in my mind as I’m reading this article. A large part of me says I want to be busy. There is a definite relationship between being busy and making money in real estate. If you’re not busy, it can be the kiss of death. But, I also don’t want to be stressed, and I most definitely don’t want to be a source of stress for others.  

I’ve chosen this profession. I’ve chosen to chaperone that field trip. I’ve chosen to coach soccer. As Jeffrey Shiau so aptly points out, we have chosen our commitments. So I must revisit my visualization of Fall. Rather than see a big grey cloud of BUSY, I am looking forward to a season full of OPPORTUNITY.

I choose to take part in opportunities to be present for my clients, my family and my personal self. I say “YES” to moments that bring joy to my life whether it be my child running down the soccer field, delivering keys to a client, or finally finishing that novel that’s sitting on my bedside table. 

Aimee Thayer-Garcia is a Real Estate Broker Associate at Bailey Properties. She is Top-Producing Agent and practices Real Estate full time with her husband, Angel Garcia. Mom of 3.  831-435-9146.

2015 Wharf to Wharf

On this part 4th Sunday in July I joined 16,000 other individuals of all ages, ethnicities, sizes, and talent level to participate in my very first Santa Cruz to Capitola, Wharf to Wharf. I’m embarrassed to say it was my first time participating in this widely popular and well-loved local event. 

Pre Race

My friend, Anna, and I were dropped off at the end of Buena Vista around 7:45am and joined the other masses of people walking over the train trestle down to the Boardwalk.  It wasn’t until we ended up in the massive line for the porta-potties did I realize just how BIG this event was. You think you know what 16,000 people looks like, but you really don’t until you see a group that large herded into 5 different corrals across just a few city blocks.

I distinctly remember having the overwhelming urge to say “moooo, mooooo” while snuggly tucked into the back of Corral 2. I suppressed that urge, of course.

The Start

Ok, I have to admit, the Start was fun. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a live event and heard a gunshot to signal the start of an event. Watching it on TV is different from hearing the sharp “pop!” in real life.  I had imagined the crowds parting and Anna and I comfortably settling into our own special space.  The reality was some bumping,  a lot of “excuse me’s”, and a few almost trips over curbs, all topped with a bit of organized chaos.  Corrals or not, 16,000 people takes a couple miles to spread out.

Mile 1- Exciting

I’m feeling good. Anna and I are holding a steady pace. The first hill up East Cliff along the San Lorenzo River wasn’t as bad as I expected. I understand the benefits of running in a pack. You run faster and it’s much funner. We waved to an overhead drone, listened to a Scottish bag pipe group, and I pointed out to Anna the first apartment Angel and I shared shared. Overall, Mile 1 was exciting.

Mile 2-  Scenic

By chance we happened to pass Anna’s family who had come out to wave at us. Anna briefly gave her daughter a kiss and hug and then we joined the pack once again. We ran past a couple who were wearing awesome T-shirts. His said, “I listen to her.” Hers said, “He listens to me!”  Anna and I both made mental notes to order those T-shirts for our husbands.  

Down Murray, over the Harbor Bridge, past the Crows Nest, and along Twin Lakes Beach, Mile 2 was very scenic.

Mile 3- Halfway

This stretch was relatively flat- Thank God! As someone brand new to this running scene, I was just grateful and happy I had made it to the halfway point. There were kids volunteering at the orange slice station and tons of people lined along the closed streets.  Those orange slices were a godsend. By now, we had found some open space to run.

Mile 4- Rough

Mile 4 was rough. I vaguely remember a band playing the Red Hot Chili Peppers. That helped. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: Anna and I hadn’t run anything more than 4 miles in distance in the entire past year.  I had momentary visions of throwing in the towel, dropping to my knees, and having a full blown adult meltdown.  The balloon arches felt like they were getting farther and farther apart. Who measured these markers?!

Mile 5- Are we there yet?

By now, I think most people around me are feeling the endorphins. Everyone’s smiling. Opal Cliff is lovely and flat. There’s tons of people out along the closed streets with signs and smiles. I briefly think there’s something wrong with me because I am definitely not feeling it. Anna is telling me we are almost there, but I am seriously doubting her. Finally we see the downhill into Capitola Village and then the endorphins decide to kick in.

Post Race

Pictures have been taken, water has been drunk, and now it’s time to mingle and find a good place for a post-race drink (or two!)  Margaritaville had a three hour wait and standing room only in the bar. So we ventured next door to the Sand Bar where we promptly sidled up to the bartender and ordered a round of Bloody Mary’s…… 

Two Bloody Mary’s in and the sprint up the hill to try and catch the shuttle back to Santa Cruz was a definite rookie mistake. 

Count me in for the 2016 Wharf to Wharf. Fourth Sunday of July, Santa Cruz to Capitola is where you’ll find me.

Aimee Thayer-Garcia is a Real Estate Broker Associate at Bailey Properties. She is Top-Producing Agent and practices Real Estate full time with her husband, Angel Garcia. Mom of 3.  831-435-9146.

5 Things Your Agent DOESN'T Want You to Know

To follow my last blog where I highlighted 5 things your Agent wants you to know, it only seemed fair to touch on things your Agent doesn’t want you to know. Here goes…..

1. Anyone can get a real estate license.

There are only 3 pre-licensing courses required, which can be taken in a classroom setting or even online. The only other prerequisites for getting your real estate license are passing a 100 question exam and paying CAL BRE licensing fees.  

Joe Smith can go from being unemployed to licensed Real Estate Agent Extraordinaire in as little as 30 days.

Generally speaking, within the industry, full-time Professionals tend to frown upon part-time agents.  It’s important to ask your Agent detailed questions about their experience. 

How many transactions did you close last year? 2 years? 5 years?
Do you have another full-time job?

Length of years licensed, or “being in the business,” has less bearing when compared to recent experience, especially in this ever-changing real estate market. You want to work with an Agent who is up to date on local market conditions and disclosure requirements. 30 years of being licensed means nothing when s/he hasn’t closed a transaction in the last 5 years. 

2. They don’t have as much business as you think they do.

Most Agents have adopted a common boiler-plate response when asked, “How’s business?”

“Oh, business is great. I’m just so busy!”

The reality is about 5% of the Agents in your area handle 95% of the transactions. In Santa Cruz County, the vast majority of Agents do 6 or less transactions.  The gap is wide between the top-producing agents and the rest. 

Everyone starts their business somewhere. I’m not implying that a new Agent won’t do a phenomenal job. After all, I can distinctly remember my first sale. I’m proud to say those clients are life-long friends who have continued to refer us to many of their friends and family.  

What do I say when I’m asked, “How’s business?”

“Business is great! I’m always looking for more. Do you know anyone who would benefit from our services?”

3. We don’t know everything.

This may appear contradictory to my last blog where I named “We don’t know everything” in the 5 Things your Agent wants you to know. 

As much as we want you to know that we don’t know everything, we also equally want to be able to wow you with our expertise of all things Real Estate. 

One fellow agent summarized our job description quite accurately- “Experts of nothing, Knowledgeable of everything.”  In addition to knowing the inventory, we have to have a basic understanding of taxes, construction, lending, title, and legal matters. 

It takes experience and confidence to be able to tell a client, “I don’t know the answer to your question, but I’ll be sure to help direct you to the right expert.”

4. The Horror Stories… Oh the Horror Stories!

Not everyone can say they’ve stumbled upon people in the throes of passion, a pig hanging out in the living room, or what could be the set for the next episode of "Hoarders" all in a days work. Every time I open up a door, I briefly think to myself, “What new adventure might I discover today?”

I recently showed a property in Felton to a client who so aptly labeled the basement as “The Dexter Room.”  It was all taken in good humor, but it got me thinking about some of the other, less humorous, horror stories some of my fellow Realtors have shared.

5. Dual Agency is not always a good thing.

Dual Agency is when the same Brokerage represents both the buyer and seller. In an even more specific scenario, sometimes the same Agent represents both buyer and seller. It’s great to be able to manage a transaction working with oneself. There’s no miscommunication or waiting on response from the other Agent. There are fewer parties to manage and align schedules. Not to mention, the pay is better.

Often referred to as “The Holy Grail” among other Realtors, I find that dual agency doesn’t come without its downsides.  I personally think dual agency is not just double the work, it’s triple the work. In a typical transaction where each buyer and seller has their own representation, an Agent only has to keep in mind what is in the best interest of their client. Well, in dual agency, that Agent has to keep in mind 1) what is in the best interest of their seller; 2)what is in the best interest of their buyer; AND 3) where these interests overlap.  

Dual Agency is hard. It can be successful, but it requires transparency and fully informed clients.

Check back next week for my recap of my first Wharf to Wharf (2015).

Aimee Thayer-Garcia is a Real Estate Broker Associate at Bailey Properties. She is Top-Producing Agent and practices Real Estate full time with her husband, Angel Garcia. Mom of 3.  831-435-9146.

5 Things Your Agent Wants You to Know

I’m still amazed by the relationships that I’ve formed through the years with clients. Typically buying or selling a home is a significant event in one’s life. It ranks up there with falling in love, getting married, starting a family, and retiring. I learn so much about a client’s dreams, life goals, family dynamics, and pet peeves when working together.  It’s too easy for the relationship to be a one-way street of information though, from client to agent. Here is my attempt to balance that often one-way flow of information with 5 things I think most Agents would want their clients to know.

1. We have lives outside of Real Estate

Yes, every Agent knows that working weekends and irregular hours goes with the territory of being in the industry.  When everyone else is off from work, we are busy little worker bees.  However, at the end of the day, we are still human. We get sick, we have families, we celebrate births and marriages, deal with loss and death, take vacations, and have interests outside of real estate (gasp!)

I won’t lie. Part of the reason I entered real estate was because I thought I would be able to set my own schedule.  I was wrong! But that’s OK. I still set aside time for my family and my own interests, which include reflecting and laughing at my naivety when I entered the business.

I won’t always be able to answer your calls 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week AND take you out every Saturday and Sunday to tour homes.  Some of the best agents are those who are able to effectively time manage.  Some of the best clients are those who are able to respect their Agent’s time management.

2. Real Estate is a lot of work

Let me revise.  Real Estate is a TON of work.  Often the public thinks our face-to-face time with clients is what makes up our job, limited to driving around in fancy cars looking at homes, holding open houses and writing offers. 

The reality is, there are about 50 million small tasks involved when working with every client.
That weekend tour of property likely happened because of hours and hours of prep work by your Agent- previewing 50 homes in order to find you the best 5, tracking down other Agents to confirm appointments, taking our car to the car wash, filling up the gas tank, planning out the route, reviewing property reports and disclosures, researching the neighborhood and market activity…… the list is endless.

When your offer is accepted, guess what? We’re not just working weekends showing you homes, we’re now working during the week managing lenders, title and escrow, and inspectors.

I have really only touched briefly on the work hours and days in this section, but I really could dedicate a whole other blog topic to the physical demands- walking through flea-ridden properties (my poor ankles), attending septic system pumps (smelly!), and exploring acreage out in the country (I’ve stopped wearing high heels.)

3. Nitpicking a property during an open house will not get you a deal.

By nature, I am a very energetic person.  Nitpicking is perhaps one of my biggest pet peeves. I have dedicated hours to hold an open house for my seller. If you are going to come through and find something negative in every room of the property, please leave. 

What’s shocking to me is that, excluding those people who just are naturally cynical and negative, a good majority of people who nitpick at an open house actually LOVE the property and will eventually write an offer. There’s this misinformed perception that if you pick apart the property and don’t let the agent know how much you like the house, somehow you’ll get a better deal…??  

Negativity + Negativity does NOT = Accepted Offer. 

I have an amazing memory when it comes to people, faces, their attitudes and opinions. When your agent brings me your offer- I will remember you as the buyer who said the kitchen was ugly and needs a facelift, hated the paint colors, and didn’t understand why the seller planted that tree.  If you’re acting that difficult during an open house, I can only expect you’ll be that much more difficult in escrow!

If the house is not for you. That’s OK.  Nobody is forcing you to buy that home.  

If you do love the home, great!  Call your Agent and write up an offer. 

4. We don’t know EVERYTHING.

Every house is different, every neighborhood is different, every buyer and seller are different.

More than once I have had a similar exchange happen during an open house:

Potential Buyer A: “Do you know if the door faces East or West? And how much will it cost me to add a second story?”

Me: “I’m actually not sure about the door direction. But I’m happy to pull up a compass if that information is important for you to know. As far as adding a second story, there are a lot of different factors that go into permitting and construction costs.  Can you give me more info and I can help point you in the right direction?”

Potential Buyer A: “What do you mean, you don’t know?!? Aren’t you the Agent selling this home?  How can you not know what direction the front door faces?!”

It’s OK if I don’t know whether the front door is east-facing or not and if I don’t keep every City’s permit fee calculator permanently etched into the back of my brain.  That doesn’t make me a bad Agent.

However, if we can treat each other with kindness, respect, and professionalism, I am more than happy to help do the research necessary to answer your questions.

5. The advice from your cousins, uncles, sister-in-law’s best friends, neighbor who happens to be a part-time real estate Agent doesn’t apply.

Again, every house is different, every neighborhood is different, and every buyer and seller are different.  The set of circumstances that might have applied to your cousins, uncles, sister-in-law’s best friends, neighbor likely does not apply to our transaction.  

As an Agent, I’m not just negotiating price and terms. I’m also negotiating personalities and emotions!  I’m educating, advising, consoling, coordinating, managing, helping and pushing sometimes 3, 4, or 5 different sets of parties in a transaction.

One of my strong points is that I’m a collaborator. I put a lot of effort in being able to work with all kinds of clients and all kinds of Agents.  I’m always open to hearing what other Agents are doing, but likely the complexities of that transaction won’t apply to your transaction.

Stay tuned for the next topic: 5 things your Agent DOESN’T want you to know.

Aimee Thayer-Garcia is a Real Estate Broker Associate at Bailey Properties. She is a Top-Producing Agent and practices Real Estate full time with her husband, Angel Garcia. Mom of 3.  831-435-9146.

Friday's "Catastrophic Surge" in Mortgage Rates

Friday's "Catastrophic Surge" in Mortgage Rates

Don't let the headline mislead you. Coming from a journalism and broadcasting background, I understand how easily media can manipulate the public opinion.

It's important to remember to take a step back and look at the big picture when it comes to the housing market. After all, there are so many factors in play- employment, interest rates, inventory, politics to name a few.

Yes, interest rates rose on Friday. But let's not forget that these same rates have been hovering around historical lows for some time now.

A 4.75 rate is still a great rate. It's half the number we saw in the 90s and one-quarter the number we saw in the 80s.

Can you imagine gas prices dropping to $1/gallon and then complaining when they rise to $1.10/gallon? 

I hope that helps put the interest rate "catastrophic surge" into perspective. It's still very affordable to buy property and it's a great time to sell.

By +AimeeandAngel Garcia