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Real Estate

"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.

This is what $10,000,000 looks like in Santa Cruz

4660 Opal Cliff Drive, Offered for $10,690,000

It's been 4 months since Santa Cruz County has had a $10,000,000+ listing on the open market and nearly 9 months since the last closed sale.  When this uber-luxury listing popped up for sale on Opal Cliff Drive, I was excited.  Finally.... maybe Santa Cruz will finally breech it's glass ceiling.

I was really, really, really (to the 10 millionth "really") ready to be inspired, awed, and rendered speechless.

For the younger generations,
this is the adult
equivalent of MTV's "Cribs."

I had grandiose visions of previewing this property and transporting myself into my own real-life episode of "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous."  For those of you that don't know, this was a TV series hosted by, none other than, Robin Leach in the 80s and early 90s.  One of my favorite shows to watch, I might add.

So what does $10,000,000 get you in Santa Cruz?

Strictly speaking numbers, it will buy a 4100+ square foot, 1939 home with 5 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, a 3 car garage and bonus room on 1.23 acres spread over 3 parcels.  So the value must be in the amenities and the view, the estate setting, right?

1 Thayer Rd sold for $13,700,000 in December 2014

In the last 5 years, Santa Cruz County has had only ONE sale (on the open MLS) above the $10,000,000 mark. That property was located in Bonny Doon and sold for $13,700,000 in December 2014. It was a 5000+ square foot ranch on 147 acres with a caretaker's cottage, guest cottage, and all of the modern amenities a luxury buyer could want. Multiple barns, a wood shop, surfboard storage, crystal clear pool, views to the Ocean, and a fully restored and updated main residence.

Back to Opal Cliff Drive-
The view was amazing. There's nothing like opening up the sliding door and smelling salt-rich air from the Pacific Ocean. An acre of ocean front property is also unheard of in Santa Cruz. It really is a once in the lifetime opportunity to gobble up a limited piece of prime coastal front property.  The reality is we can always build more homes, but it's not like we can "make" more coastline.

But here's where I feel a professional obligation to set the record straight.  If you're looking for all of the bells and whistles, keep looking.  You won't find a 3-car garage with pristine epoxy coating, so clean you can eat your dinner off the garage floor. The garage looked barely worthy of hosting a Tesla. There's no infinity pool with waterfall spa or a high-tech home-system hub that is so futuristic it requires you to download an app for the app.  The most updated section of the home was probably a mother-in-law wing with it's own kitchenette, fireplace, and sitting room.  Hardwood floors, sure.  Crown moulding, yup.  But overall, there  was no consistency with the updates. A long, inviting and modern hallway would lead to a 1950s wallpapered bedroom with the old windows in metal casing and hand cranks.

Dilapidated Play Structure

No epoxy coating here.

"Bonus Room"

Here's what $10,000,000 looks like in other areas

$9,995,000 Highland Beach, FL
$9,900,000 Rye, NY
$9,995,000 Harwich Port, MA
In the past 12 months there have been 42 luxury property sales ($2,000,000+) in Santa Cruz County. With close to 50% of those being all cash purchases, the real money is coming in from the Silicon Valley. These "new money," affluent, GenXers expect the latest in updates and amenities. They don't want CAT-5 wiring, they want CAT-6.  Energy efficient systems don't mean anything unless they're plugged into the latest and greatest NEST system to be operated remotely from their iWatch.  No Uber or Lift service in the area? Forget it.

These young, high end buyers are of the mindset, "I want it. I want it now, and I'll pay a premium for it."  Trust me, as a Cupertino-raised and educated person I know how these people think. I grew up with them, went to high school with them, I took my SATs with them. In 2011 tech start-up Punchd was acquired by Google for a $10,000,000+ price.  Niket Desai, one of the developers, hailed from the same high school I attended.

My point is the money is here in Santa Cruz County. It's not just one commuter bus leaving from Scotts Valley; there are multiple commuter buses shuttling high-tech employees to Google, Apple, Netflix, and Yahoo!.  The next $10,000,000 buyer is already eating at Penny Ice Creamery, surfing the waves off 38th Ave, and dining at Suda.  It's not the price tag that scares off the new buyer, it's the horrific lack of updates.  Out with the OLD. In with the MODERN. Let's give them a house they want to spend $10,000,000 on.

On a final parting note.....
The drought doesn't discriminate. Even the uber-wealthy have dead grass. 

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.

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.