Burgundy Stone (B.S.)

Burgundy Stone (we will refer to them as B.S. for short), while not the real companies name, B.S. has been a challenge to set a showing appointment.

Yesterday a Client reached out, very excited that a house in her old neighborhood is on the market and she would very much like to look at it.

Well, I love helping my Clients at the highest level I can and naturally I was excited for her.

So.. I checked the MLS for showing instruction and, well, the instructions are “do not call the Listing Agent, call B.S.”

Just so you know, when I list a property for sale, I always make sure I am available as often as I can be or I call back as quickly as I can.

OK, whatever, I will call the B.S. call center (which we all love to do) and navigate their phone directory and B.S. messages until I find a live B.S. Agent.

The B.S. Agent (or operator) tells me she cannot set the appointment and that I have to go to the B.S. website.  Huh?  Then why was I told to call the B.S. number?  “I can take a message” she tells me and someone will call you back.

This seems like a sales prevention tactic, but I comply because I believe in taking great care of my Clients and a little phone call to a B.S. company isn’t going to stop me.

Then I go to their B.S. website to set the showing appointment,  I navigate to the scheduling page, feeling pretty lucky my Clients preferred date and time are available, I set the appointment (so I thought).

Nope, someone has to call me back…  grrr

A quick recap so far: 1) You cannot call the Listing Agent; 2) The B.S. number you are told to call cannot set the appointment; 3) The B.S. website you are told to go to cannot set the appointment.

Now I am wondering, just how long does it take for someone to call me back to show a house that is vacant??

Yay!  I get the call!  I’m going to set the appointment.  My Client is going to be happy!!  Yipee….. oh…. they can’t set the appointment.  I have to go to a different website….  But they will text me the website address.

Sure, I got a text… it’s a phone number.

So finally, after multiple attempts, I am finally able to set the appointment.

This seems like a lot of work to show a house that is vacant and on a lock box.  You have to wonder just how well is B.S. representing their Clients when a simple task is complicated.  Sure, they claim to save you thousand, but if your house doesn’t sell, what’s the point.  If it’s on the market longer then the average, are you really saving anything (after you pay additional mortgage, insurance, maintenance and taxes).

Posted on July 15, 2019 at 2:57 pm
Steve Cardinalli | Posted in Uncategorized |

Request For Repairs or Stupidity?


After 16 years experience and 100’s of closed transaction, I thought I had seen everything you possibly can in a Request for Repairs.

I received a request recently that included items:

  • Replace all the washer in the house because some fittings have evidence of previous leaks.  There are no active leaks, but corrosion that indicated that there was possibly a leak in the past.
  • Install a microwave that never existed in the first place.
  • Adjust the water heater temperature.  Yep, you read that right.  Instead of the Buyers turning the dial when they move in, they want the Sellers to do it.  This came to light because the Home Inspector actually called it on his report.
  • Replace the HVAC filter.  Not too sure why the Buyer can’t open the panel, remove old filter, insert new filter, close panel.

The list includes 30+ items, most are very small details.

When chatting with the other Agent, She insist, combined, they are not expensive fixes and then tells me the Buyer wants a $2,000 credit.

My counsel to the Sellers, don’t do anything!  The list was unrealistic.  We eventually closed to deal and have moved on.

Now I wonder, what is the strangest Request for Repairs have you received?

Posted on July 15, 2019 at 2:57 pm
Steve Cardinalli | Posted in Uncategorized |

Light Fixtures

Did you know your new home might not have hard wired light fixtures?

Actually, it is very likely the only hard wired interior lights will be in the kitchen , dining area/room and bathroom.

Kitchens will often have recessed or canned lights in newer homes and older homes may have florescent fixtures.

Dining areas or dining rooms often have a chandelier style lights over the dining table area.

Bathrooms…  very common to have a light fixture above the sink that may be as simple is a couple of bulbs or it could be an entire “Hollywood” style light that has several bulbs around the mirror.

And that may be all the lights to come with the house.

It is very common for the bedrooms not not have any lights hardwired.

Depending of the way the house was built, installing lights may be very easy (I always recommend hiring an electrician).  A crawlspace or attic is optimal for wiring lights properly and the easiest way to hide wires.  If that is not an option, lights can be wired and hidden by decorative tubes (again, call an electrician).

Table and floor lights are great options.  They can cost effective, can be installed by anyone (just plug it in), are easily moved around the room, are easy to change the bulbs compared to a light fixture installed in the ceiling and can easily be changed to match the rooms decorating theme.

The night time you purchasing a home, make a note if the room has lights already installed and do they match your style.

Lights, hard wired or personal property, are the perfect way to set the mood of the room.

Posted on July 15, 2019 at 2:56 pm
Steve Cardinalli | Posted in Uncategorized |

Achieve Your Financial Goals

With 2019 approaching, now is a good time to set financial goals.

We often start the year high expectations and good intentions and within a few months (or weeks), we lose sight of our goals.

Here is a plan to keep you on track:

1) Identify what you want: Do you want to save for retirement?  Maybe pay off your debt?  Save for a down-payment on a home?  Then make the desire your goal.

2) Assess your finances: Take an honest look at what you currently has and will be available.  Include all accounts, income and expenses.  You want a complete understanding so you can create a realistic goal.

3) Get SMART: Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Time frame.

4) Make a plan: Don’t worry about making a perfect plan.  Focus on activities that will help you reach your goals.

5) Have a visual reminder: Have your goal in plain view at multiple locations.  Constant reminders will help keep you on track.

Posted on July 15, 2019 at 2:55 pm
Steve Cardinalli | Posted in Uncategorized |

What a Government Shutdown Means for REALTORS®


If a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government is not passed by Congress and signed by the President, a partial shutdown of some government operations will continue. This partial shutdown would includes some federal housing and mortgage programs. The information below is based on NAR staff review of agency contingency plans for the current shutdown and experience with previous shutdowns.

Flood Insurance 

An extension of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is currently attached to the CR. Without an extension, NFIP cannot sell flood insurance policies after midnight on December 21. Existing policies will not be affected until 30 days after their renewal date. Homebuyers will be able to assume existing policies and claims will continue to be processed and paid as usual. For more information, click here(link is external) to read NAR’s answers to frequently asked questions(link is external) about NFIP.

Federal Housing Administration

HUD’s Contingency Plan states that FHA will endorse new loans in the Single Family Mortgage Loan Program except for HECM loans. It would not make new commitments in the Multi-family Program during the shutdown. FHA will maintain operational activities including paying claims and collecting premiums. FHA Contractors managing the REO/HUD Homes portfolio can continue to operate. Some delays with FHA processing may occur due to short staffing (click here(link is external) for more info).

Internal Revenue Service 

The IRS will close and suspend the processing of all forms, including requests for tax return transcripts (Form 4506T). While FHA and VA do not require these transcripts, they are required by many lenders for many kinds of loans, including FHA and VA, so delays can be expected if the shutdown is protracted. Some loan originators may adopt revised policies during the shutdown, such as allowing for processing and closings with income verification to follow, as long as the borrower has signed a Form 4506T requesting IRS tax transcripts. On loans requiring a Form 4506T Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may adopt relaxed provisions allowing closings but subject to tax transcript verification before the GSE’s purchase the loans.

Government Sponsored Enterprises

During previous shutdowns, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have continued normal operations, similar to their regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, since they are not reliant on appropriated funds. Fannie and Freddie may announce relaxed procedures that would permit closings to go forward without federal verification of Social Security numbers and IRS tax transcripts. However, lenders would still have to obtain federal verification of both before the GSE’s will accept loans for purchase. Any relaxed requirements would not apply to loan modification re-financings.

Rural Housing Programs 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture would not issue new rural housing Direct Loans or Guaranteed Loans. Scheduled closings of Direct Loans will not occur. Scheduled closings of Guaranteed Loans without the guarantee previously issued would be closed at the lender’s own risk.

Social Security Administration 

The Social Security Administration will close, but checks will still be processed and distributed. According to the SSA Contingency Plan, verifying Social Security numbers through the Consent Based SSN Verification Service would be suspended. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are expected to adopt policies to allow for closing subject to subsequent verification and before GSE purchase of the loan.

Originally posted by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) December 21, 2018.  https://www.nar.realtor/what-a-government-shutdown-means-for-realtors

Posted on July 15, 2019 at 2:54 pm
Steve Cardinalli | Posted in Uncategorized |

3 No-Cost Ways to Stage a Property

You may not have the extra funds to stage a property, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways you can still spruce it up.

“Everyone needs to stage their home to sell it efficiently,” Laura McHolm, co-founder of NorthStar Moving, told realtor.com®. “But you do not need to spend a lot of money to stage your home.”

Some of the biggest staging moves can be free. Beyond decluttering and depersonalizing the property, realtor.com® recently highlighted several ideas, including:

  1. Remove any extra storage.

“Eliminate any plastic storage bins, over-the-door storage, above-cabinet storage, and extra racks in rooms,” Julie Chrissis with Chrissis & Company Interiors told realtor.com®. “This is important because buyers never want to think they will outgrow a home. A seller’s job is to show them there is plenty of storage space for them to grow into.”

2. Tweak the furniture layout.

Pay attention to how the furniture is placed in the room and its flow. Remove furniture that makes the space look too cluttered. “Room layouts should be set up for photos first,” Chrissis says. “It’s important that the photo not be of the back of a sofa, large chair, or other pieces of furniture, as this makes the room look smaller because it blocks the view of part of the room. The same goes for open houses and showings. If buyers see a room with furniture barriers, it makes the room seem smaller.”

3. Lighten up the mood.

“You want natural light and lamps with warm light—no swirly bulbs that look like office light,” says Chrissis. “We tell most of our clients to remove valances as they typically make a room darker and, in most markets, are a little out of fashion. Lamps are important, especially in winter months when there is less sun and sunset is earlier.”

Originally posted January 8, 2019 at https://magazine.realtor/daily-news/2019/01/08/3-no-cost-ways-to-stage-a-property

Posted on July 15, 2019 at 2:54 pm
Steve Cardinalli | Posted in Uncategorized |

All in, for you.

Posted on July 15, 2019 at 2:51 pm
Steve Cardinalli | Posted in Uncategorized |

13 Visual Tricks Home Stagers Are Playing on You

In today’s ultracompetitive real estate market, it’s said that potential buyers make up their minds within seconds of stepping inside a home. That’s why an ever-growing number of sellers turn to professional home stagers—whose services, some say, can add instant appeal and even sell a house up to 40 days faster.

Their secret? An arsenal of optical illusions and psychological tricks that draw buyers’ eyes to all the right places. Yep, that’s right. Home stagers are fooling us! (And we love it). Here are some of the secrets of the dark art:

1. They never leave a room empty

Any home seller’s top goal is to make a small space look bigger. To get that look, you might be tempted to empty out the space and remove all your bulky furniture. But there’s a twist: Emptiness can actually make rooms look smaller.

Instead, professional stagers manipulate your visual perception of a room through the use of the right kind of furniture, says psychologist Kristie Barnett, author of “Psychological Staging: The Home Staging Secrets of the Decorologist.”

“An empty room gives buyers no point of reference for size,” Barnett says. “I have seen many buyers walk away from a vacant home because they falsely believe their own furniture will not fit in the master bedroom or that the living room will not provide enough seating for entertaining. Staging rooms with furniture helps establish the room’s size and helps a buyer visualize how they can arrange their own furniture.”

2. They really think about furniture placement

“We scan a room from left to right upon entry,” Barnett says. “If you place the tallest piece of furniture in the room in the far left corner, the room will appear larger.”

Placing a large or tall piece of furniture on either side of an entryway or door makes a room appear smaller, according to Barnett, while placing such pieces farther back in a room makes the space appear larger.

3. They use the ‘Rule of Three’

Interior designers swear by this golden rule of home staging, which involves grouping items—from chairs to lighting to artwork and accessories—in threes (or fives or sevens or nines).

According to Whitney Parrott, lead designer at Everything Creative Designs in San Diego, arranging items in odd numbers forces the eye to move around a space and makes the overall experience more natural and visually rich (compared with the forced feeling you might get from even numbers).

4. They highlight focal points

Walk into any well-staged home, and you’ll notice great accent accessories positioned near a room’s best attributes. For example, a grouping of (three!) vases near a gorgeous fireplace or a large plant near a window with a view. Stagers also frequently position furniture at an angle to facilitate better movement in a square or skinny room, or to highlight existing focal points.

5. They create cozy conversation spaces

Prospective buyers want to socialize in a home’s common areas without moving chairs. Plus, placing furniture in conversational groups (think a love seat and two chairs) makes rooms feel larger.

In long rooms, consider creating two separate chat areas and delineating them with area rugs to create the illusion of more space. (Pro tip: Using just one rug that’s too large actually makes a room look smaller.) The back of a couch can also be a great divider between rooms in an open floor plan.

6. They don’t overdo it with rugs

“Unbroken floor space makes any room appear larger, which is why I recommend removing most rugs (except to anchor a conversation area), bed skirts, and items off the floor of closets,” Barnett says. She likes using furniture with long legs to further the effect.

7. They use consistent color to make rooms flow

Weaving the same pops of color throughout your home allows your space to flow cohesively from one room to the next, according to Parrott. Incorporate similar hues across rooms in pillows, artwork, and accessories. Generally, stagers recommend dedicating 60% of a room’s space to a single color, 30% to a secondary color, and 10% to an accent.

8. They let mirrors create the illusion of space

Designers universally agree that mirrors make small rooms appear bigger by reflecting light. According to Canadian stager Martha Stanton-Smith, when a buyer catches a glimpse of himself in a mirror, “he will literally see himself in the house. The subliminal suggestion will tell him he has a connection.”

9. They never underestimate the power of a well-placed curtain rod

Hanging curtain rods just below the ceiling (as opposed to above the window) adds the illusion of height to an otherwise average-size room.

10. They find a style that works—and stick to it

Consistency in furniture style provides a sense of continuity and calm that prospective buyers expect and will remember.

“If the living room is contemporary, the rest of the home should also be a contemporary style,” Parrott says. “Don’t hop from contemporary to traditional to eclectic. Stick with one.”

11. They skip the dresser

Remember, the objective of staging is generally to make each space look larger. That’s why stagers never include dressers and other “arbitrary” furniture, unless they’re working with a very large space. (If you need a place to stash your duds, consider renting a storage unit or organizing nonessential items in clear plastic bins in a closet or garage.)

12. They stash the TV

Most professionally staged homes ditch television sets, which can occupy valuable wall space and often make rooms appear smaller. If you’re living in your staged home, consider using a laptop or iPad for those Netflix binge sessions. The caveat? If your set is flat-screen, appropriately sized, and wall-mounted, it can stay—just as long as it’s in common living areas and out of bedrooms.

13. They let the light in

Ample lighting adds what pros call “visual square footage”—the illusion of more space. All windows should be thoroughly cleaned to let the light in. Then, swap out heavy, room-darkening drapes or heavy blinds for opaque, light-filtering window treatments or light curtains. Use wall sconces, floor lamps, and task lighting to add more wattage on the cheap.

While these tips might seem overwhelming to design rookies, you don’t really need a degree in psychology to sniff them out—or to use them in your own space.

“At its core, staging is all about creating high-impact vignettes to distract the eye,” Parrott says. “When in doubt, remember this: Less is always more.”

Originally posted October 11, 2016 at https://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/home-stagers-visual-tricks/

Posted on July 15, 2019 at 2:50 pm
Steve Cardinalli | Posted in Uncategorized |

C.A.R. Predicts a Possible Decline in California Housing Market

The California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) has indicated a slower and weaker housing market in California in 2019. In its Economic and Market Forecast Report 2019, C.A.R. predicts that reduced affordability of the average home buyer will contribute to dampening of home sales in 2019.

In 2018, for the first time in four years, home sales in California will end at a lower level, while the housing demand for next year could be even weaker.The economic forecast by C.A.R. shows that in 2019,single family home sales will decline 3.3 percent to 396,800 units, down from the projected 2018 sales of 410,460.

Higher Interest Rates will Affect Sales

While the sales are projected to decline next year in California, the cause behind this trend will not be higher prices. According to the C.A.R. forecast, the median home price in California will increase only 3.1 percent to $593,450 in 2019, compared to a projected seven percent increase in 2018. C.A.R. estimates that home prices will temper in 2019, but the interest rates could go up, which will compound housing affordability challenges. Potential buyers may choose to wait on the sidelines in such a scenario, which will hamper home sales and curb housing demand in 2019. The C.A.R. forecast shows that in 2019, the average interest rate for a 30-year fixed home loan will increase to 5.2%, against an average rate of 4.7% in 2018.

While this may not be a very alarming jump in lending rates, but when coupled with the additional home price rise in 2019, it is bound to impact the affordability of many potential home buyers in California.

Drop in Existing Home Sales

The economists at C.A.R. predict that sales of existing homes will decline to 410,450 in 2018, which will be followed by a further drop to 396,800 transactions in 2019. If this occurs, it would be lowest sales level in California since 2014. These estimates from C.A.R. mark a significant shift from the hot demand the housing market in California experienced in the past four years. That period witnessed consistent rise in demand and price gains driven by bidding wars. However, things have dramatically changed in 2018, and the declining trends are likely to continue in 2019.

Price Reduction Predicted

C.A.R.’s chief economist and senior VP, Leslie Appleton-Young said that the rise in home prices over the last few years occurred due to a shortage of housing supply.

This trend has finally begun to take a toll on the market. Although California is not yet a buyer’s market, the trends are also pointing in that direction. Prices are likely to drop as sales continue to decline, Appleton-Young said. Buyers are fatigued, and they are choosing to sit on the sidelines, waiting for the prices to come down.

Originally published January 6, 2019 at https://www.nsdcar.com/c-a-r-predicts-a-possible-decline-in-california-housing-market-in-2019

Posted on July 15, 2019 at 2:48 pm
Steve Cardinalli | Posted in Uncategorized |

5 Negotiating Tactics That Kill a Sale!

Negotiation is a subtle art in real estate, but skilled negotiators can usually find some common ground that satisfies all parties. On the other hand, using the wrong negotiation tactics can sink a deal pretty quickly. Here are some negotiation tactics buyers (and real estate professionals) should avoid:

  1. Lowball offers: Going far below market value when you make an offer damages your credibility as a buyer and can be insulting to the seller. The seller has a range in mind that they’ll accept, and if you’re not even approaching the low end of that range, they won’t even consider the offer.
  2. Incremental negotiations: Don’t continue to go back to the seller with small increases in your offer ($1,000 or less). The constant back-and-forth can grow tiresome and lead the seller to consider other opportunities.
  3. “Take it or leave it”: Try not to draw a line in the sand with your initial offer. The seller can get defensive and consider other offers if you immediately show that you’re unwilling to budge. Even if it’s true, don’t make a show of it.
  4. Nitpicking after inspection: Obviously if inspection reveals a major issue, it should be factored into the final sale price. But insisting on a lower price for every minor repair can put negotiations in a stalemate.
  5. Asking for more, more, more: Some buyers will request that the sellers throw in add-ons like furniture or appliances that weren’t included in the listing. Try to avoid giving the seller a reason to build up resentment and think that you’re being greedy.

Posted on July 15, 2019 at 2:47 pm
Steve Cardinalli | Posted in Uncategorized |