10 Open House Red Flags

Open House Red Flags
10 Red Flags at an Open House

In competitive markets, like ours, you often will walk into an open house that most likely has been deep cleaned, scented, upgraded and staged to impress you. However, you should proceed with caution.

Here are 10 red flags to guide you in an open house (which I suggest you DO NOT do on your own for many reasons, but instead have a competent Realtor accompany you).
Red flag No. 1: Too much scent
The more aggressive the scent, the greater the likelihood the seller is taking precautions to mask a more offensive odor.
Take a deep whiff in every room you enter, and look closely at walls, ceilings, and flooring for signs of pet accidents, mildew, or smoke.
Red flag No. 2: Poor tiling
It may indicate a Do-It-Yourself job, which may or may have not been done properly and other potential flooring problems may be present.
Red flag No. 3: Foundation issues
Most houses have hairline cracks, which just indicate the house is settling (or has settled) into its position, but large gaps may signal bigger issues. Other things to look at: sticky doors, visible cracks above the doors or windows.
Red flag No. 4: Signs of deferred maintenance
This can be something simple like burned-out light bulbs, long grass, leaky faucets, or faded paint. What constitutes good maintenance? Flushing the water heater annually, changing the air filters at appointed times, inspecting the roof for leaks, and making sure the house is ready for all-year weather.
Red flag No. 5: Nearby water
If the house is near a creek or the Bay, it may look great, with beautiful views. But with the rainy season (which was off the charts this Winter), will it flood, or has is flooded? Will it be insurable for flood risk? It can very expensive.

Red flag No. 6: Windows That Don’t Operate Correctly
Take a second to pull back the curtains to check for uneven frames, and then give the windows a tug to make sure they slide easily. If they stick, it could be a sign of foundation issues, poor installation, or inferior quality windows—the only fix being expensive—new windows!
Red flag No. 7: Mold
To detect possible signs of mold while wandering through an open house, discreetly open bathroom and sink cabinets to take a look around water pipes or drains, Even small black or gray spots indicate that more serious issues may be lurking.
Red flag No. 8: Water damage
A musty odor can indicate water damage, even if you don’t see standing water. Check walls and ceilings for water lines; they likely indicate flooding from a leak or a burst pipe that may have caused internal damage. Also, take a peek at exposed piping in basements or laundry rooms, and check for rust, water stains, or leaking.
Red flag No. 9: Cosmetic enhancements
That one freshly painted wall could be an accent wall, or it could be hiding something like a patch of mold. You can lift area rugs to check hardwood flooring, making sure they’re not stained or damaged by pets.
Red flag No. 10: Improper ventilation
Without adequate interior ventilation, moisture sticks around, which can create mold and increase allergies. The tipoff: Look for condensation on windows or slightly bubbled or peeling paint around windows, doors, or vents. This can indicate moisture in the walls and ceiling drywall.
The bottom line on the open house: Be attentive, knowing that the home inspection you will order (when your offer is accepted, for example) will most likely detect many of these problems, but knowing about them will help you the next time you are at an open house.
I always attend open houses with my clients, and we regularly go through a list of things to look out for. Call me at 650 483-4932 and we can work together to make sure your next house will be worth it.

 

Where International Buyers Come From

International Buyers
Where Do  International Buyers Come From?

As a home seller, one of your Realtor’s jobs is to get as many eyes on your house as possible.

What strategy does your real estate professional use to market outside the U.S.? What International organizations do they belong to? How will that make a difference when getting you the highest possible price in the least amount of time? Give me a call at 650 483-4932, and ask me those same questions.

Top 20 Markets March 2017

Top 20 Markets
Top 20 Performing Markets For March 2017

Realtor.com®’s economic data team identified the largest metro areas where homes are selling the fastest and garnering the most views.

California markets continue to dominate. Some new metros were added to this month’s list: Santa Cruz, Calif.; Fort Wayne, Ind.; and Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor, Mich.

Is time to sell, or wait a bit? Call me at 650 483-4932 to find out.

Resale Return On Investment: What Works?

Projects Worth Doing
Return On Investment

What projects should you consider doing, if you are thinking of selling your house? This list includes what you should and shouldn’t do.

If you would like a more detailed list, give me a call at 650 483-4932 or email me at rafaelcastrojr@gmail.com

Mal Pais Costa Rica $339,000 USD

Costa Rica
Mal Pais Costa Rica
Costa Rica Mal Pais
Views in Mal Pais

This 180 degree view hilltop lot is located in Mal Pais, just a short distance from the center of town and some of the best beaches in Costa Rica.

The property boasts ocean, beach and jungle views, along with great ocean breezes. This large and spacious lot is ideal for those looking to build a personal residence, vacation rental or even a small hospitality business, with its amazing views and plush jungle surroundings.

It boasts 9,650 square meters, which is about 2.3845 acres. It is close to surf, beaches, shops, and restaurants.

According to Wikipedia: “Malpais is a town in Puntarenas Province, Costa Rica which began as a fishing and cattle-farming village, and has become popular among surfers and adventure travelers around the world. Recently, Forbes Magazine voted the beaches of Malpais and neighboring Santa Teresa as ‘One of the ten most beautiful in the world.’ Malpais now is known for its incredible beauty, with white sand coves, rocky outcroppings, steep jungle-covered hills, and forests teeming with animals, birds, and insects. While Malpais is still a remote fishing village, it also is known for modern day luxuries. Many excellent hotels and luxury houses have been built in recent years, and there are many excellent restaurants, with cuisine from around the world.”

Give me a call today to see how this area can be your second or even first home at 650 483-4932.

Why You Won’t Buy a House

Qualifying for a loan
Loan For a House?

A Reason You Won’t Buy a House

One of the reasons you won’t buy a house is because you can’t come up with the 20% down needed for the down payment, right?

It’s true that having a bigger down payment cuts the overall costs associated with getting a mortgage loan: borrowers likely will have to pay higher costs over the life of the loan – including higher interest rates and usually mortgage insurance.

However, according to a National Association of Realtors profile report, for the past three years, the median down payment for first-time buyers has been 6 percent and 14 percent for repeat buyers. But, when consumers are asked about the down payment amount they need to buy, 87 percent of non-owners say that a down payment of 10 percent or more is necessary.

The Wall Street Journal also reports that some lenders are luring more home buyers back by waiving mortgage-related fees and even showing more acceptance of allowing down payments to be made by others, such as the borrower’s family members.

So, what does this mean for you? There are mortgage options available for creditworthy borrowers with manageable levels of debt and smaller down payments. If you are interested in buying your first home in 2017, you should do the following:

1) Review your finances,

2) Sit down with a lender to see how you can qualify for a mortgage, and

3) Call me at (650) 483-4932 to help me find your home!

rafaelcastrojr@gmail.com   650 483-4932

Why Own Coffee Farm Parcels in Panama?

Coffee Farm Parcel
Why Own a Coffee Farm?

There are benefits of owning agricultural real estate. With a rapidly growing global population and a steadily decreasing amount of arable land, ownership of a piece of real estate that produces a high-demand, non-perishable crop can be a winning combination.

I met with business directors for International Coffee Farms at a real estate event in Las Vegas recently and they gave me some really good information.  They live in Panama and grow an amazing Specialty Coffee (which I was able to try) , and explained to me their business model.

They can chose to sell their coffee to China, Europe, Australia or North America. Using the nearby Panama Canal adds to the efficient business process.

What they told me was, that If you love the idea of owning a coffee farm in Panama and see the benefits, you might not necessarily want to travel down there, learn a new language, do your own due diligence to identify the farms, negotiate the terms, set up a farm management company, run the farms, hire the crew, pay social security, build a mill, process, market and sell the coffee.

Using the ICFC, you don’t have to, since this is what they take care of!

Some facts of the coffee industry, International Coffee Farms and Panama:

  • There is land available, the team is built, the market is there and the product is proven – Coffee is a $90 billion industry worldwide and loved by many people.
  • Coffee is the 2nd most traded commodity in the world, only after OIL in dollar terms, and the consumption of high end specialty coffee is rapidly increasing.
  • The world is drinking more coffee, with demand likely to rise almost 25% in the next five years, according to the International Coffee Organization.

Please call me at 650 483-4932 or email me at rafaelcastrojr@gmail.com for more information on how to get started, and more information on the International Coffee Farms

Just Listed In San Francisco!

Nicely updated condo! Located in one of San Francisco’s fastest growing, up and coming neighborhoods. This is a 3 bedroom, with 1 full and 2 half baths. New exterior shingle siding and new backyard Redwood fence. The well thought out 2-level floor plan shows the  living, entertaining and kitchen space on the first floor and the top floor shows the master suite and 2 more bedrooms. Excellent natural lighting throughout the unit, with a storage shed, and a south facing private patio. Great location near the Dogpatch neighborhood, AT&T Park, Mission Bay, and near public transportation. This is an excellent opportunity to own in San Francisco!

Video Link: http://tour.obeo.com/theme1/?ID=1130449

Call me for a Tour today! 650 483-4932

Selling Your Home In The Winter

Selling in Winter Months
Selling Your Home in The Winter

Selling your home in the Winter season may actually be a good idea.

According to statistics, the Spring season is the best time since you have a better chance of selling for over asking (the list price) and getting into contract.

But, the second best season to list a home? That would be the Winter months. According to Redfin’s new report, Spring just nudges out the Winter season.

Spring listings received 18.7 percent above the asking price while Winter listings were close behind at 17.5 percent. Also 48 percent of homes listed in the Spring sold within 30 days and 46.2 percent of homes in the Winter sold within those same 30 days, not much of a difference!

Summary of the statistics:

  •     Spring: 18.7% sold above list price
  •     Winter: 17.5% sold above list price
  •     Summer: 15.1% sold above list price
  •     Fall: 14.7% sold above list price

Some reasons why listing your house in the Winter months are good:

Some sellers are waiting until the Spring season to list their home, but by then other seller listings are also on the market.

Your house will stand out better in the Winter months with less houses on the real estate market.

Buyers that are buying need to do so, regardless of the temperature outside. They may need to move immediately, for example, to re-locate for work.

The Winter months in the San Francisco Bay Area are not frigid like in other parts of the country as it can be back East, thus not affecting the real estate market as much.

Buyers without children or of school age may not need to be settled in their new home before the school year starts, thus can begin their search at anytime.

The perceived notion that buyers can get a better deal in the Winter months (somewhat) will bring out serious buyers.

If you have thought of selling or buying your home right now, give me a call at 650 483-4932. Also, call so I can send you my brochure “Selling Your Home in the Winter” which, by Redfin’s statistics, is certainly not a bad idea.

Improved Home Buying Affordability

Home Buying
Improved Home Buying Affordability

Improved home buying affordability can mean more Buyers will be searching and buying homes, most likely for the first time. Home Buyers can take advantage of historically low interest rates and any down payment assistance programs that may exist in their city of choice.

Call/Text/E-mail me on how I can help you achieve the goal of purchasing your home. Call me at 650 483-4932. E-mail: rafaelcastrojr@gmail.com.

Start a home search at: www.RafaelCastroJr.com.