Jeff Thompson, founder & president of the Real Estate Help Team has lived in Sonoma County for 17 yrs. Jeff has built his team with members with combined real estate experience of more than 60 yrs.
Get to know Jeff Thompson
Jeff Thompson, founder and president of the Real Estate Help Team has lived in Sonoma County for 17 years. Jeff has co-founded several local and national businesses over the past 10 years. After selling a software company to WebMD in 2000, he founded the Real Estate Help Team, a direct-to-consumer service business dedicated to the purchase and sale of residential property. Jeff leverages his vast knowledge of technology to streamline the purchase and sale of his clients' homes. Jeff has built his team with members with combined real estate experience of more than 60 years.
Jeff has resided in Rohnert Park for the past 6 years with his wife Nancy, Katy (daughter, 8), Kate (step-daughter, 17), and Brian (step-son, 19). Jeff enjoys long camping trips with his family, in addition to playing competitive tennis matches with his brother Chris.
The Real Estate Help Team services Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Cotati, Petaluma, Windsor, Healdsburg, Sebastopol and the rest of Sonoma County, CA and surrounding areas. For all your real estate needs, please contact us!
Jeff Thompson's Blog Posts
When selling a house, we all share the same goal - to sell it quickly and at the highest price possible.
If you've placed a house on the market, you may have possibly enjoyed the thrill of receiving that first offer. Unfortunately, you may have also experienced the disappointment of a much lower offer, or one that doesn't come for weeks or months.
Most people buy a house for emotional reasons, most real estate professionals agree. The desire for a comfortable home and lifestyle propels buyers to purchase a specific house.
The easiest way to understand this is to remember your own experience of purchasing a home. You had some idea of what you were looking for, and you probably clutched a list of desirable features. You may have looked at several houses, but none of them seemed just right. Then one day it happened when you least expected it - there it was. Within minutes you knew this was the one; you were overtaken by a powerful emotion. If two houses are similar, buyers will choose the one that touches them emotionally.
The same mind-set applies when the roles are reversed, when you are the seller and not the buyer. Only when a buyer "feels" as if your house can be a home will they acknowledge that it could be. The emotion that overpowers the prospective buyer can be compared to love at first sight.
There are several ways to approach a buyer, but one of the most important ways is to make sure when your house is ready to be placed on the market, it plays to the largest audience. Selling your house should go quickly, smoothly and profitably. Dressing your house to achieve a profitable sale can help you buy your dream home.
Gertrude Singer, a REALTOR with National Realty in Florida, said that the first and most important step to dressing for success is uncluttering.
"Clutter makes rooms and the entire house feel smaller. Uncluttering makes every room in your house look and feel more spacious. Your goal is to create a roomy, comfortable feeling that's inviting to prospective buyers,".
Uncluttering also means organizing. Show buyers that you have a place for everything and everything in its place. By putting everything away neatly, buyers will feel that by living in your house they, too, could be well organized. Ultimately, less is more.
Another important step is cleaning - not just everyday cleaning, but a thorough spring-cleaning. According to John Kuehne with Pruitt Real Estate, Inc., "a deeply clean house not only looks great, it feels uplifting, and as new as when you first bought it."
Kuehne also suggests removing any old and stained carpeting and replacing it with light colored tiles to give the impression of a large, clean room. An unclean house will create doubt and apprehension in a prospective buyer.
If anyone in your household smokes, consider smoking outside, and use a carpet freshening agent each time you vacuum. Singer also suggests burning scented candles or baking a batch of cookies to give your house that homey, lived-in feeling.
Now that you have done away with the clutter, your house is sparkling clean, and the scent of cookies baking in the oven permeates the entrance to your house, your next step should be to concentrate on repairs.
A house will not sell for top dollar if any detail, whether large or small, is in need of maintenance. These would include a leaky faucet, a cracked tile, or peeling paint. These may signal a warning to a buyer, creating the fear that larger maintenance problems could be lurking beneath the surface.
Kuehne suggests the seller make a complete list of repairs, small and large. Look at the house through the buyer's eyes. Replace any cracked or broken window panes, repair wood rot, re-caulk where needed, patch all cracks and nail holes, replace missing or loose tiles, replace old carpet, tighten loose doorknobs, and lubricate squeaky hinges. These fix-ups will ultimately help you receive the offer you want.
And, finally, a word about a beloved member of your family: your pet. Pets that live in your house will make a strong, possibly negative statement. Research shows that half of all potential buyers are either allergic to, dislike, or are afraid of pets. While your house is on the market, keep Fido outside as much as possible. If that's not possible, be sure to clean, vacuum and neutralize odors daily to keep your house smelling fresh. Consider asking a neighbor to watch your pet in their home while you're showing your house to prospective buyers.
There is no magic to getting the most for your home. Every house will sell;, eventually - it's just a matter of when and for how much. It only takes one buyer, but which one? You decide.
THE SMART SELLING SOLUTIONTM
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With the Smart Selling SolutionTM you have complete flexibility.... From "Full Service" to "Do It Yourself".Sell Your Property Yourself, while it is listed and pay no commission. This does not apply to a buyer exposed to the property by my office or another agent.Flexible Commissions Put more money in your pocket with the Smart Selling Solution®, exclusively with Jeff Thompson. Most agents will charge you the same fee no matter how your home sells...even if you find the buyer. With the Smart Selling Solution® you have complete flexibility...From "Full Service" to "Do it Yourself".Cancel the listing at anytime. Either you or I can cancel by calling and saying "I want to cancel the listing." It's that simple. The cancellation becomes effective at the time you call. Please allow 2 business days to have the sign removed and the listing withdrawn from the Multiple Listing Service.No advance fees of any kind. You only pay if I procure an offer that is acceptable to you."No Pressure" presentation. I will never allow you to be "pressured" by the buyer's agent. All offers will be faxed or delivered to my office, and presented to you by phone, so you can make your decisions privately.For a FREE No Obligation Information package simply complete the form below. You will be mailed a complete pre-listing kit.
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SETTING AN APPROPRIATE PRICE- EASY STEPS TO FOLLOW
At any given time, three general factors affect the sale of your house: the current real estate market, the location of your property, and the competition - other houses like yours competing for the same buyers. These three factors are always in flux. For example, interest rates rise and fall; neighborhoods lose or gain cachet; similar houses suddenly arrive on the market; and the pool of active buyers changes. No one can control these factors, and you cannot wait until all the conditions are absolutely perfect to sell your home. Smart sellers don't put themselves at the mercy of these factors - they maximize conditions to their advantage.
Let's review the three factors mentioned above: market, location and competition.
MarketPackaging will make your property stand out from the competition whether the market is booming or not. In a buyer's market (where there are more houses than buyers), preparing your home is the best way to make it memorable and easy for buyers to recall at the end of a long day of house-hunting.
We've all heard it before, "location, location, location" is important. If your house is in a less-than-ideal location, you can't move it. If that's the case, try to make the most of it. Turn your house into the most appealing house in that location. Remember that if your house doesn't stand out, another will, and it will get top dollar.
When a number of houses with similar features are on the market, yours needs to shine. If two houses are similar in structure or layout, buyers will choose the one that feels as if it could be their home.
Now that you have considered the above factors, how do you decide how to price your house?
Well, there isn't an exact formula to arrive to a magic number, only a price range. Why? Because houses are a commodity subject to the laws of supply and demand, and market conditions keep changing. Prices rise when there are more buyers than sellers; they decline when there are more houses for sale than buyers. The availability of mortgage money also affects sales, but ultimately what the buyer feels about a house is what determines the price he'll pay. While the buyer determines the selling price, you establish the listing price of your home.
When you put a house up for sale, there is a high probability that the asking price will be lowered. The key is knowing when to lower and how much to lower. Keep in mind that timing is everything. If you have had your house on the market for some time and as a last minute effort decide to lower the price, it may not do you much good.
It is during the first two weeks when your home will get the most traffic. This is when the home is fresh on the market and in its peak sale time. If you wait too long to bring down the price, the current buyers will have already seen the house and won't necessarily show new interest.
That doesn't mean that another group of buyers won't come along, but buyers are bunched in price ranges. Therefore, in order to grab the attention of the next price range of buyers, you would probably have to make a significant reduction.
To arrive at a realistic listing price, research your competitor's pricing. Find out what similar houses have sold for recently as well as what "comparables" haven't sold to give you a good idea of the price buyers are and are not willing to pay for houses similar to yours. Remember, a buyer will be looking at a number of houses with similar features and amenities.
Usually the specific features in your house will determine its price range. For example, a three-bedroom, one-bath house in a certain neighborhood will sell for less than a three-bedroom, two-bath house in the same neighborhood because buyers are willing to pay more for a second bathroom.
Pricing your home can be very emotional for the entire family. How do you put a dollar amount on memories? Many sellers are offended if the market value of their house does not reflect their emotional attachment. However, you need to consider that buyers won't pay for your memories - they don't qualify as a feature.
Don't overprice your house - that usually backfires. As mentioned above, the first two weeks a house is on the market is when the most serious pool of buyers arrive ready to buy. They've done their homework. They won't buy a house that's overpriced. If a buyer is interested in your home, they still have to secure a mortgage. In order to obtain that mortgage, your home has to come back appraised at the asking price. An example would be if you were selling your home for $100,000 but the appraisal came back at $95,000. In this case, the deal would fall through or you would have to lower the asking price to match the appraisal.
If this happens where the deal falls through and your home has come out of escrow or, it stays for sale on the market longer, the chance of it taking longer to sell has greatly increased. So, if you are the seller of a house, make sure you either get an appraisal first, or work with a qualified real estate agent who can guide you into an appropriate asking price.
Finally, it's your responsibility to price your house so that it will sell quickly and profitability.
E-SEMINAR: "Home Selling Tips"
Welcome to our FREE E-Seminar entitled "Home Selling Tips". In this seminar you will receive professional advice and insight into the home selling process. As a result, you can save thousands of dollars and avoid common selling mistakes!
Your topics will include:Where Do You Start Home Staging Equals Quick Sale Should You Make Repairs? Choosing the Right Agent How to Enlist Your Children Five Keys to Successful Negotiation And more...
To Get Started with your Seminar CLICK HERE.
DO YOU NEED A REALTOR? - THE TRUTH!
You are selling your home, and you want to get the best price you can to maximize your profit. Do you need a Realtor? Can't you sell it yourself and save on the commission?
It's best to have an agent on your side who will coach you through the process, be your advocate in negotiations, advise you on preparing your home for sale - and provide access to the most powerful home-selling tool of all. That tool is the database of homes for sale, locally called the MLS.
What's an MLS? When you hire a Realtor to sell your house you sign a contract to sell the home, and your home is "listed." Locally, most of these are exclusive arrangements, meaning the sale of the home will result in the Realtor getting paid.
A multiple listing service (MLS) is what it sounds like - a collection of thousands of listings in one database. The service allows Realtors to see what's available throughout a region. Moreover, such Internet sites as Realtor.com offer nationwide listings, exploding the power of the MLS.
How can a sign in your yard and some ads in the newspaper compare with thousands of Realtors seeing your house in that database? How are all the potential buyers working with buyer's agents going to find out about your house?
Today's market is very hot, and it does favor sellers because of the low number of listings and the large number of sales each month. So you might be able sell on your own, but for how much and after how long?
The advantage of the MLS is exposure. By letting a large number of people know about your home, you are more likely to get a good price for it in a reasonable amount of time.
Well, what if you didn't sell the house at all? You might try in vain month after month to sell, and miss out on that great home you wanted to move up into, just so you could save a bit. Worse yet, you might buy that perfect house assuming you would sell yours soon and wind up paying two mortgages for awhile.
Who pays the commission? Besides, the commission is really paid by the buyer. How can that be possible? It winds up in the seller's column on the settlement sheet, but buyers pay commissions in a certain sense.
Consider this: An automotive manufacturer sells cars to dealers, who then sell them to consumers. Consumers pay for the car, plus they pay the dealer. The dealer's profit is built into the price listed on the window. This practice is so common, we don't think we are paying the cost of the car plus the dealer's profit. We just consider the price vs. the value of the vehicle and, after a little negotiating, pay for it.
In a similar way, the 6 percent or 7 percent commission is really built into the price of the home. Because Realtors' fees are such standard practice, a 6 percent commission probably was included in the price of your house when you bought it 10 years ago. Now you are selling it, probably for a fair bit more, and that 6 percent is still built into the home's value and price. And it is the buyer who pays that price, which includes the Realtor's fee.
Finally, if you want to sell your home quickly, safely and for a good price, nothing beats listing it with a Realtor.
SEMINAR: "Home Buying Tips"
Welcome to our FREE E-Seminar entitled "Home Buying Tips". In this seminar you will get information necessary to save you thousands of dollars and avoid making careless mistakes when you purchase your home.
Topics include:How to Avoid Stupid Mistakes Questions Every Buyer Should Ask Is Now the Time to Buy? New or Old? The Debate Continues Fixer-Uppers: Wise Investments or Money Pit? Your Closing Date Will Make a Difference Five Keys to Successful Negotiation How to Succeed With Counter-Offers Inspect, Inspect, Inspect And more...
To Get Started with your Seminar CLICK HERE.
Why Should YOU "Move-Up" Now to a Nicer Home, Given Today's Market Conditions?
Due to the huge appreciation homeowners have gained in the last 7 years (some lost in the last 2), the uncertainty in making a "move up" can be perplexing. The idea of purchasing a home for the benefits of comfortable living, proximity to services and schools, neighborhood preferences, etc., have all been muddled and now redefined by the boomers and the "echo" boomers. For some, homes have become investments for lost years of retirement funding. This phenomenon has created a speculative and uncertain condition that can fog the reality of why we have homes in the first place: to enjoy the benefits of home ownership!!!!
Let us discuss some of the opportunities of moving up TODAY, in a down shifting market:
•1. Given interest rates are still at 50 year historic lows, the lending environment is still in our favor.
•2. The availability of low cost money aside, perhaps the most significant advantage to moving up in a down market is the large selection of homes available. (This can also work against you as the selling homeowner.)
When a market has a glut of homes, as is the present condition, one of the first adjustments the real estate market experiences is for homes to return to values based upon the "foundational" criteria of the home value: location, quality of the home and neighborhood integrity. These are the primary aspects that buyers begin to distinguish a value between one home and another. Buyers become more selective because they seek specific characteristics that specifically satisfy their family's needs and add extra value to the quality of their lives. Homes must scream out "added value" to sell. This concept may be the most compelling of all reasons to "move up"...to get a better horse for the long term race.
The vast majority of homes will struggle to sell and the large inventory can cloud the vision of choice. Many "good" properties are on the market, but selecting the right property with added value becomes more complex and can be confusing. (A good agent will exploit these advantages in the market place. After all, the real key to successful real estate investment is in the PURCHASE. Every great investor knows "it's on the buy side where the money is made!!"
•3. A third major consideration in taking advantage of the move up market is the big jump in the growth of your current home's equity. Even the less expensive properties have improved disproportionally to historical trends. This chance to leverage "up" NOW gives more opportunity to purchase a superior property with inflated dollars. (Note: Since 1850, California property has appreciated 2% over inflation (2.5-3.5%). California appreciated nearly 100% from 2000-2005. These dollars are more valuable now because capital is extremely difficult to acquire, and this appreciation cycle may not be experienced again in the near future, if ever.) Now is your chance to leverage the "rapid" equity growth you've achieved.
•4. The fourth advantage of the move-up opportunity is that "upgraded" properties have more qualities that bring greater enjoyment in the present, and greater financial protection overall in a down market. Regardless of any one person's opinion, real estate has become an "investment vehicle" for the boomer generation, as much as it is a dwelling to enjoy and live in. These two uses have merged and the phenomenon of living in YOUR most prized and valuable asset, can't be under estimated. With an entire nation participating, who can complain?
•5. Lastly, we must look at the value of home improvements made on a "better" property compared to a lesser valued home. Capital dollars spent on improvements increase the value as well as enhance the personal enjoyment of a home. A home in greater demand due to "foundational issues" will retain and appreciate in value much faster and for a longer period of time due to the "upgrades" put into it. Hence, money invested in a "better" home will yield a greater return for the homeowner.
Ultimately, regardless of the advantages of selection or improvements or even personal needs, fundamental economics must be the final conclusion when considering property changes. Speculation in a fast moving market can be financial suicide. BUT... Complete non-participation can be even more costly! It is essential that any home selling or buying strategy must include good planning and proper financing.
So in summary, the fundamental advantages of moving up in today's market NOW are:
•1. Hugh selection let's you choose a BETTER home without overpaying
•2. More upside appreciation with better properties over the long haul
•3. Equity gained from current home results in more buying power
•4. More personal enjoyment, better amenities, services and schools
•5. Protection from a severe down market, and
•6. Better return on improvement dollars
For the past several years, we have been consulting with homesellers and buyers on proper move-up/down strategies, advising them with respect to protecting their financial investments, helping them to find and negotiate the "right" deal on the right home, and striving to protect their futures. If we can help you, or someone you know, make the right decisions in today's market, please call us today at 707-576-1300. Ask for Kelly or Jeff.
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HOW TO MOVE WITHOUT COMPLICATIONS
Once you have located your new home, now comes the fun part - moving. Whether you are moving two streets over from your current home, from one side of town to the other side, or clear across the country, you have two options for moving - using professional movers or doing it yourself.
There are pros and cons of both choices, so first sit down and decide how much you can afford to spend, and what option you feel works best for you. Let's look at what those differences are:
Professional MoversProfessional movers come in many different forms. There are those on the less expensive end of the system, consisting of two to four people with a truck, all the way up to the executive level of packing and using a huge semi-truck to delivery your belongings. Usually, what you pay for is what you get.Most moving companies provide sturdy, reinforced boxes. The cost of these boxes is included in the amount quoted for the move. Professional movers use padded blankets to protect your furniture. These blankets are secured with rope or bungee cords to ensure no damage occurs. If you are doing the packing, make sure you carefully mark each box, specifically pointing out to the movers the boxes that contain fragile items. In most cases when using professional movers, you don't have to worry about the weight of the boxes in that they know how much to pack and use dollies.
If working with professional movers, one semi-truck may contain several households so your belongings may not be the first on their route. Talk to the movers and determine when they are targeting arrival at your new home. Keep in mind that traffic, construction, weather, can all be factors in delay. For this reason, it's important to have phone numbers and e-mail addresses for not only the movers but also the main office should your belongings not arrive on time. In addition, make sure they have phone numbers where you can be reached as well. If the schedule shows arrival for 5:00 p.m., have someone at the house from 4:00p.m. until the truck arrives.
Self-MovingBy visiting your local grocery or business dumpster, you can find all the boxes you need. Many businesses throw out boxes of all sizes, which are also industrial strength. Cost - nothing. You can use old blankets, pillows, or towels, or, some rental companies will rent padded blankets to you for a very small fee. Just be sure that you wrap breakable items carefully and don't stack boxes of breakables on top of each other. Mark all boxes carefully. Separate your breakable items and you might consider moving those in your car instead of loading them into trucks with your other items. When packing your boxes, keep the weight of the box reasonable. If you can't pick it up, obviously it's too heavy.
Basic GuidelinesBefore moving, consider having a garage or yard sale. This is the perfect opportunity for cleaning out the old and eliminating all those unwanted items from being packed and moved Carefully mark the boxes containing towels, toiletries, sheets, etc., so you can unpack those firsthand at least be able to make your bed and take a shower. Other boxes that you want to get into as soon as you arrive at your new home can simply be marked with" Open me first." This might include coffee, eating utensils, or clothing that you've packed separately to cover a few days. If you have children, let them help in writing out the labels. This will free you up to do other things and, it will help them get used to their new address. Especially if you have cats or other small curious animals, make sure you keep them closed off from packing as well as the moving day activity. Pets can easily get into boxes without anyone knowing or, they can quickly run out a door. Allow anything electrical to return to room temperature before plugging it in. For example, if it's extremely cold outside, condensation could develop. Then, when you go to plug them in, you could get shocked. Take phone books with you and notify old neighbors and friends of your new address and phone number, if you already have the number. Don't pack food that could spoil. Refrigerator items such as mayonnaise, butter, milk, etc. should be placed on ice in a cooler and then moved or given away. If moving across the country where boxes will take days to arrive, don't pack any perishable foods at all.