Why Buying Your First Home is A Lot Like Playing ZUMA

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Gold DRE #00697006


OK, I admit it. Sometimes I play computer games. Not all the time 24/7 but a round or two of Bejeweled -- after a stressful phone call from an irate buyer's agent who can't understand that list prices of Sacramento short sales mean nothing -- keeps me in my usual calm, happy and peaceful state. For the past few months, I've been playing ZUMA, another addictive Pop-Cap game.

Zuma's premise is simple: A bunch of colored balls roll merrily along a path. A ball appears in the frog's mouth. The player aims and clicks the mouse to hit 2 or more same-colored balls in a row, which removes the balls from the path before the remaining balls fall into a hole. There are levels, and each level is more complex than the last.

Now, you may wonder what does ZUMA have in common with buying a home? To win a game of ZUMA, a player must be skilled at aiming correctly and instantly deciding whether to use the ball in the frog's mouth or to right-click to change the color of the ball. Speed, concentration and accuracy are essential. But much also depends on which balls are rolling along, and a player has no control over that aspect of the game.

Conversely, when a first-time home buyer in Sacramento decides to buy a home, to have any chance of landing the offer, the buyer must be decisive, write a clean offer and act quickly. We are faced with limited inventory and an over supply of buyers in Sacramento. Sometimes, though, no matter how skilled a buyer's agent, a buyer may need to write a number of offers to get one offer accepted.

On the other hand, sometimes a buyer can get lucky, and all the stars in the universe are aligned correctly. First-time home buyers for Natomas had been waiting for just that right moment. They called me several months ago to inquire about buying a home in Sacramento. Their lease does not expire until mid August, so I suggested they wait until mid May to begin making offers on a short sale.

We looked at homes last Saturday, but nothing really appealed. Saturday afternoon, a new short sale listing popped up in MLS. I called the seller to make an appointment, and the seller was very reluctant to give me the appointment at the time I wanted, but I was persistent. I don't take no for an answer.

The buyers loved the home. It was exactly what they wanted. But it was only one day on the market, and it was a weekend when many listing agents don't answer their phones (because unlike me, some agents actually have a life). We looked at the comparable sales to determine how high we would need to go on price. The comps dated back to December, which meant they won't be used for an appraisal. And they were $40,000 over list price.

I called the listing agent. She answered. We talked. Discussed comps. Got the information I needed and told the buyers they might get the home at $20,000 over list price. We wrote the offer and included a document that prevents the seller from accepting any other offers or sending any other offers to the bank.

The buyers were so excited by the process that they shot photographs of each other signing the purchase offer. Afterward, the husband leaped out of his chair, threw his arms around me and hugged me. It was one of those spontaneous things. Very sweet.

Yesterday morning I received the signed offer from the listing agent. The buyers are elated. We are waiting for short sale approval. The door of opportunity had been opened for these buyers, the timing was right and they made a fast decision. If any one of those elements had been changed, they might not have gotten the home.

P. S. By the way, I am up to Level 12-6 in ZUMA. At some levels, if you mouse over the main menu game bars, it will play the tune to Close Encounters and a space ship will appear. Just thought you'd like to know that.

sacramento short sale agent

Photo: Elizabeth Weintraub

The Short Sale Savior, by Elizabeth Weintraub, now available at Amazon.com.

Elizabeth Weintraub is an author, columnist for The New York Times'-owned About.com, a Land Park resident, and a Land Park real estate agent who specializes in older, classic homes in Land Park, Curtis Park, Midtown and East Sacramento. Weintraub is also a Sacramento Short Sale agent who lists and successfully sells short sales throughout Sacramento. Call Elizabeth Weintraub at 916.233.6759. Put 35 years of real estate experience to work for you.

Posted by

elizabeth weintraub



Weintraub and Wallace Realtors



Elizabeth Weintraub reviews




Elizabeth Weintraub is co-partner of Weintraub & Wallace Team of Top Producing Realtors, an author, home buying expert at The Balance, a Land Park resident, and a veteran real estate agent who specializes in older, classic homes in Land Park, Curtis Park, Midtown, Carmichael and East Sacramento, as well as tract homes in Elk Grove, Natomas, Roseville and Lincoln. Call Elizabeth Weintraub at 916.233.6759. Put our combined 80 years of real estate experience to work for you. Broker-Associate at RE/MAX Gold. DRE License # 00697006.

Photo: Unless otherwise noted in this blog, the photo is copyrighted by Big Stock Photo and used with permission.The views expressed herein are Weintraub's personal views and do not reflect the views of RE/MAX Gold. Disclaimer: If this post contains a listing, information is deemed reliable as of the date it was written. After that date, the listing may be sold, listed by another brokerage, canceled, pending or taken temporarily off the market, and the price could change without notice; it could blow up, explode or vanish. To find out the present status of any listing, please go to elizabethweintraub.com.


This entry hasn't been re-blogged:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
Home Buying
California Sacramento County Sacramento
Posts to Localism
Lyon Realtors
ActiveRain Rockstars
Club Chaos
Diary of a Realtor
buying a home
elizabeth weintraub
firsttime home buyers
short sale
short sale agent sacramento

Spam prevention
Show All Comments
Patricia Aulson
Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes

Great post today and interesting analogy.

I like your informative blogs and enjoy reading all of them.I subscribe to your newsletter.


~ Have a great day today,

Patricia Aulson/Portsmouth NH Real Estate

May 19, 2009 03:07 AM #1
Tina Allen
Exit Realty Tri-County - Mount Dora, FL

Great post...I love Bejeweled, but haven't played in forever...now I will look for Zuma.

May 19, 2009 03:13 AM #2
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%
RE/MAX Gold - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

Hi Patricia: Portsmouth is the place I used to stop on my way to Maine and eat lobster. Beautiful town. How lucky for you to be selling real estate there!

Hi Tina: I'm warning ya -- you'll get hooked. Don't come back and blame me. Here's a tip. After you win a game and begin the next, stop and save the game. Then return to continue playing. Otherwise, every time you lose, you'll go back to the beginning of that level.

sacramento short sale agent

May 19, 2009 03:22 AM #3
Donne Knudsen
Los Angeles & Ventura Counties in CA - Simi Valley, CA
CalState Realty Services

Elizabeth - not a zuma or bejeweled fan but rather more of the seek and find fan, you know where you have to find a list of items it the chaos.  Anyway, I also like to spend a few minutes every now and then escaping into a game.

On another note, both you and your clients got lucky.  Sometimes that happens.  I'm in escrow now with a client where it happened pretty much like that for him.  He went out one day and saw three properties and made a full price (not thousands above) offer that day on the first one he saw and now we are days away from closing.

Unfortunately, I have so many other clients that are literally in offer hell, meaning after months of searching and making offers, they have never had one accepted.  Go figure.

May 19, 2009 03:33 AM #4
Gary Woltal
Keller Williams Realty - Flower Mound, TX
Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth

Elizabeth, I'm in trouble now and have never played Zuma, although I know of it. Better get to practicing it so I can be as good as you <Smile>.

May 19, 2009 10:52 AM #5
Terry & Bonnie Westbrook
Westbrook Realty Broker-Owner - Grand Rapids, MI
Westbrook Realty - Grand Rapids Forest Hills MI Re

I have a couple of games that take my mind of the day when I have had enough but it seem like lately it has been less games and more work. Congratulations on your sale.

May 19, 2009 04:11 PM #6
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce

I used to be a Zuma occasional player....and now I am finding that a round or two of some hidden object game is stress relief....and helps be jiggle my perspective on life !

May 19, 2009 11:45 PM #7
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%
RE/MAX Gold - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

I had a particularly stressful day yesterday, so I worked out that stress by climbing to level 12-7. My husband is still stuck on 12-6. Does anybody know how many levels there are in ZUMA? I'm sorta hoping that 12-7 is the last.

sacramento agent

May 20, 2009 01:31 AM #8
Teresa K. Nelson
Windermere Real Estate/HLC - Woodinville, WA

Zuma...never heard of it, but it must be an adult equivelent to XBox??? 

Good job on the sale! I love spontaneous hugs!

May 20, 2009 05:44 AM #9
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

If you like Zuma you would also like Luxor (just thought you'd like to know that).  And are there agents who don't play computer games from time to time?

May 20, 2009 10:36 AM #10
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%
RE/MAX Gold - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

Heh, heh, thanks, Tammy, I'm gonna have to check out Luxor now.

BTW, an agent I know online asked today on LinkedIn if I knew a female agent in Warner Robbins. I don't know how close you are, but I suggested he call you. I have no idea why he specified gender.

sacramento agent

May 21, 2009 06:23 AM #11
Show All Comments

What's the reason you're reporting this blog entry?

Are you sure you want to report this blog entry as spam?


Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%

Put 40 years of experience to work for you
How much is my home worth?
Spam prevention

Additional Information