Written by Kelsey Lane
The Leaving of Home
You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics, property investing, and home values to community happenings. In Silicon Valley many people are concerned about making it financially - our focus is to encourage an investor mindset, even for residential real estate, at the same time we cover what truly makes a house a home.
That’s because we care about the community, your Silicon Valley experience, and want to help you find your place in it.
We also have a little bit of fun here! Our team lead Kelsey Lane has been in real estate 17 years, and this is a forum not only for new clients, yet also for friends, family and the many clients and vendors who have become like friends and family.
Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!
Written by Kelsey Lane
Don't let anyone tell you that buying a house is easy. In fact, living in a home that is new to you is just on the other side of a precipice-flanked gorge that can seem daunting. While the house is not going to buy itself, and while you will need to expend a large amount of effort, the following nine steps outline how to bridge the gap of that gorge and make the home buying process possible.
1.) Do one sweep at getting your financial house in order. It's never going to be perfect, but if you're almost done with your taxes, finish them and get them filed. If there are some credit cards that are almost paid off, pay them off. This will create less headaches later on with your lender.
2.) Have exploratory conversations with a couple of loan agents. Start with your bank or credit union and get some referrals but don't let anyone pull your credit rating just yet. Eventually you'll want a pre- approval but for now just dip your toe in the water to find out the general price range of your qualification. Also have some preliminary conversations with friends who are Realtors (or referrals of friends) to let them know you're starting to look.
3.) Look online at property listings. The large sites like Redfin and Zillow while not 100% accurate can give you a good idea of what's available in your range. Ultimately, your real estate agent can also set you up with a search on the MLS that gives direct alerts.
4.) Make a list of 5 to 10 active listings that you're curious about online to go drive by. This can also become a weekly ritual. It's great research and legwork for being satisfied with the investment you end up making. Try not to rule out too many listings based on photographs - sometimes those that look good online don't in person and vice versa. If it meets your criteria, it's a candidate for the driving tour.
5.) Tell the Realtor you chose which houses you'd like to see inside. Give them at least a day notice, if not two days, so they can look into making a dedicated appointment to view it. They'll need to arrange with owners and get specific entry codes, etc., so last-minute requests can be tough. An optional idea is to also schedule an informational zoom with your new Realtor to get their tips on the housing market and home buying process.
6.) Now's a good time to get your actual preapproval. Give the loan agent you've selected an idea of the amount you'd like to be approved for so that they can maximize your resources and see if it's possible.
7.) View at least 10 properties in person. If you get past 20 you may be looking at the wrong thing. From my 17 years in real estate most people look at between 10 and 20 homes before they purchase. Some get lucky and find the right fit much sooner! During this phase, make sure your Realtor sets you up on a portal with regular property alerts that also allows you to "favorite" and save certain properties.
8.) If you like a home that you've visited in person, ask your Realtor to send you the disclosures and inspection reports, as well as a report of any recent nearby sales prices. This part of the home buying process will help you feel peace of mind about the accurate value of the home. If there will be multiple offers, this may be your one chance to review inspections to feel satisfied about the condition of the property. If it has been on the market awhile and you're the only offer, you can likely take longer to kick the tires even after your offer is accepted.
9.) After you read the reports and discuss with your agent, if you decide to make an offer make sure your Realtor is clear on your offer structure. They'll need to know how much you're putting down and how quickly your lender can close. Introduce them to your lender so they can work as a team. You may need to make several offers before landing a house, but you'll get better at it every time.
10.) Once your offer is accepted let your Realtor continue to take the reigns as a project manager and let you know next steps. Depending on your situation, you may have a contingency period to do more due diligence, or you may not. In any case you'll be communicating regularly with your lender in order to gain final loan approval. Your Realtor and lender will be giving you action items on almost a daily basis and it's important that you follow their lead and get everything turned in that is needed. As a team, it will ensure a successful closing.
Written by Manuela Pauer, Career Happiness Coach
Have you ever wished for something and worked hard to get it, only to find out in the end that it didn’t make you as happy as you thought it would? This has happened a few times in my life: working my way up in an unfulfilling career, moving to a new neighborhood that didn’t suit me, and even when I’ve made time to take a break from working but ended up just feeling bored… Achieving your dreams is a great thing, but how can we make sure we go for the “right” dreams – the ones that will actually make us feel happier and more fulfilled when we reach them?
Martha Beck has written an excellent article on this topic: “How Three Simple (But Powerful) Words Can Put You On The Path Of Happiness", talking about how she helped two women achieve their goals. One hoped to start a business and the other wanted a baby - only to have them end up feeling more distressed afterwards than they were before.
Their problem was they hadn’t probed deeper into what they really wanted to experience and how they wanted to feel (in their cases, contentment and being loved.) Instead, they were focused on the situation they wanted to achieve (building a business and having a child.) Unfortunately, reaching their dreams brought more stress and pressure, rather than contentment and love.
As you go through these steps, you might realize that your big goal is only one way to get the experience you really desire, and you may find new ways to feel the way you want. Maybe you’ll realize that the goal isn’t as important as you thought. Or you may feel it’s still important to pursue, even if there are drawbacks. Either way, now that you know what it is you really want to experience, you can focus your efforts on what matters most to you. And the beauty is that you can begin right now!
So here are the 3 adjectives I came up with (with my personal definition):
- Valued (I matter. I am important. I am respected.)
- Productive (I am using my strengths and talents. I am competent. I am helpful.)
- Connected (I collaborate. I belong. I am part of something greater.)
I can now choose and focus on activities that make me feel valued, productive and connected!
What are your 3 adjectives?
Coach Manuela Pauer, who is a regular contributor to the Heart of the Home blog category from Kelsey Lane & Team Real Estate, helps mid-level professionals create a career and life they love. Contact her for a free 45 minute Career and Life Strategy session. Get more information on Manuela’s Website.
By Anne Wittig, Budget Coach
As the new year approaches, so does hope for widespread vaccination. We also hope for both stability and the ability to make plans with a bit more confidence. The latter is particularly relevant for me as a budget coach, because budgets are plans. I have found challenges in my own budgeting this year. As with all other plans this year, my budget has more often felt like a prayer than a plan.
To prepare for 2021 New Year’s Budget Resolutions, I recommend going through the following list (in order, if circumstances allow, or just start with the one that stands out):
1. Gather 2020 data. Check how your income and expenses have been each month in 2020, and since March in particular.
2. Observe reasons for fluctuations in 2020 data (or variations from prior years’ “normal”). Note circumstances and events that caused any atypical fluctuations.
3. Create a guesstimate table for 2021. Based on the information gathered, create a table like the one below and fill in some educated guesstimates about monthly income and expenses (i.e. best, worst, and likely case estimates).
4. Prepare for plausible scenarios. This is where, if it hasn’t already, it may diverge significantly based on circumstances, but consider the following: “Based on where I am now, financially, how can I plan to use my income and expenses in preparation for the possibility that next year could be an absolute 2020 of a year?”
For example, I hope the pandemic improves, but fear that things may not get better at the rate that I’d prefer (right now, please!) I want to set whatever funds I can aside for any possible “lean” months that may come. Looking at it practically, I also reason that in my best case scenario, I want to be saving for travel, museums or amusement parks, or other intermingling opportunities that have been scarce in 2020. Saving for the future can be hard when the future seems bleak. Sometimes it helps to think of it not as “saving” but as purchasing a future experience.
I know it’s hard not to be able to spend as much in the present on those experiences now, and it will be tempting (for me, at least) to spend on those things as soon as it seems safe enough to do so, but holding off now (and as vaccinations are still beginning to roll out) will save lives. Say what you will about 2020 – it has certainly been unique, but it’s also the year that every one of us can be a superhero just by how we spend our days.
By: Nicole Kleemann, Creative Leadership Coach
Everybody wants to be seen, heard and acknowledged. Family and friends gatherings are about creating and stabilizing the bond between us. To make the holidays this year meaningful you want to find a way to hear, see and acknowledge those closest to you, even if the medium is online instead of in person.
1.) Acknowledge and voice your emotions and expectations beforehand. If you need to vent your anger, frustrations, sadness, or worry, call a family member or a friend and let it out way ahead of the actual meeting. Video conferencing may be a great avenue. From this conversation, you can learn and understand what is really important to you and create a wishlist of what you need from this year’s family gathering. This will then influence how you all come together to create a unique experience.
2.) Let go of your ideal, most-favorite holiday memory and accept that this year will be unique.
3.) Prepare for a unique holiday gathering. This may be in person for smaller groups (your household) or on Zoom or other video venue for larger extended family and friends.
4.) Consider storytelling themes. See more on that below.
Define what can make this year’s holiday gathering unique and meaningful.
Purposefully create uniqueness. As this is hopefully a once in a lifetime experience, you can question all your rituals and traditions, turn them upside down, and voice which ones are really important to you.
What would make you happy and satisfied and make the celebration meaningful?
How can you keep your most at risk love ones safe? Can you schedule some online zoom gatherings ahead of time instead of large family gatherings? For smaller gatherings, can you arrange for having them outdoors?
How do you want to really connect with your family and friends?
While you might not share one table, one meal together this year, what can you share during the season that would feel rewarding?
1.) Move and play outside and bring this back to your loved ones through photos and video.
2.) Build paper boats with notes of gratitude and let them go in a river stream (make a short video of it and share it).
3.) Collect fall leaves and create a collage, build a snowman, sand castle, mud pile...you can even make it a competition if you like.
4.) Create a sensory story: Find an item that reminds you of a favorite moment (maybe a shell from a beach), a spice that reminds you of your favorite food, or a tool that describes your favorite activity. (See resources on my blog)
5.) Create a scavenger hunt through your family history (find something that appeals to all or each age group individually). Google “Family Scavenger Hunt” for more inspiration. Here are some ideas:
Find out what uncle X’s favorite game was when he was 5 years old.
Find pictures of places your grandparents lived (Google Maps can work) and have the grandparents tell a story about it?
Who can share the secret family recipe for X?
What funny story do your kids likely not know about you?
Who wore the worst halloween costume ever in your family? And what is the story? Vote.
Get out of the house and search for X (fall leaves, holiday decorations in the neighborhood, something purple).
Make a collage about the stories you have heard.
Use icebreaker cards or table topic cards.
Get out the good ol’ Scrabble board or Trivial Pursuit games out and play alongside each other. Use a group text to share the most outrageous words. Maybe allow (finally!) to get the spelling wrong, use made up words etc. (as long as the person can defend their word/spelling).
Create thank you and gratitude notes. Ensure you mail them ahead of time to family members so you can open them together and read aloud.
6.) Consider who is alone in your circle or neighborhood and include them, by dropping off food to them and/or creating gifts for them, or inviting them to your zoom sessions.
7.) Share your experiences through pictures, videos and stories in a group chat etc.
Create some parameters about how to share the stories remembering everybody wants to be seen, heard, and acknowledged. That way you avoid talking all at once or above each other.
Example: Give each person some time to share a story (5-10 min). The other members can witness the story and listen without interruption. Thank the person for sharing the story. Each person can build on what they heard or focus on what they’d like to share. When each person has spoken there is time for further discussion (or breakout rooms if you’re using Zoom). The listeners should listen with wonder and curiosity: “I wonder why this story is so important to him/her to share with us.”
Above all, be present in each moment during a very unique year, thankful to be creating new, different memories.
For resources on the above, please see my blog.
By: Kelsey Lane
Everyone always asks me what the market is doing. Sometimes I so wish I had a crystal ball, especially with the election coming up and unknown lingering Covid-19 outcomes.
In Silicon Valley, the market is one of the hottest markets I've seen in my 17 years as a Bay Area Realtor. Oddly, the spike of activity seemed to coincide with close to the beginning of the shelter-in-place orders. When we started staying at home, occupied homes were not allowed to be shown, but once that lifted everything took off. Fast forward to today, new listings that are desirable make showing slots available for socially distanced tours, but slots are hard to nail down for the weekend unless you book several days in advance.
The average single family home price has gone up to $1,736,317 for Santa Clara County from a year ago which was $1,567,695. Inventory is so low, and we don't have enough to keep up with what buyers currently want. So what is happening?
The trends I'm seeing when I pull market stats monthly for our Santa Clara County Price Trends page on our blog, is that single family homes have been significantly going up, and townhomes moderately going up. Condominiums themselves are staying fairly stable. My gut feeling is also telling me people are buying real estate because it gives a sense of accomplishment and falls under "something they can control" in an unpredictable world of change and shifting conditions. And the trends I'm seeing when I'm showing homes to buyers (lots of buyers!) are the following 1) yards 2) kitchens 3) affordability.
Let me expand on these. If they're currently in an apartment, shoppers are looking for either a townhome or a single family with an outdoor space. And additionally, any features like a larger kitchen or desirable indoor qualities like office space get good attention. The other big trend is since so many people are working from home, they're deciding to move further away from their actual company location in order to get a bigger home or more yard. Though risky, people seem willing to stomach the unknowns and get the home they want & deal with commute issues later. It will be very interesting to see how this impacts the Silicon Valley market - since there is still a housing crisis, it may not have the impact many people project. The other migration is to out of state - sellers who've long been on the fence about when to leave seem to be more decisive of late. I've been going on quite a few listing presentations of sellers who are moving out of the area, whether it be a different region in California or to a new locale altogether.
What do you see as being the current trends? I'd love to hear from you. And if you have any real estate questions, I'd love to help.
by Kelsey Lane
I'm reflecting on this year to date, and it's reminding me about home and gratitude. In March, we received stay-at-home orders. Shortly after that, riots broke out nationwide. And what seems like shortly after that as our problem du jour, wildfires drowned out what little air we thought we had.
For those of us who are not ill or in critical condition, and those of us who are able to remain in our homes and not be evacuated, we are intensely grateful. We can help our brothers and sisters in need, who are in those situations.
And meanwhile, we remember yet again how important "home" is. Our team started the Heart of the Home category on our blog nearly a year ago. Our intention was to explore what makes a house a home, and that it is usually the people in it. Whether we like our physical homes or not, we carry "Home" in our heart and noone can take that away from us.
And yet there is the matter of the physical home. After a couple months of staying at home, some of us ventured out to outdoor dining and allowable activities with protocols. But now with smoky air quality, our newly formed options of freedom are once again limited. So, we're indoors, inside, some with AC and some not coming out of a week of 100 degree weather.
I'm feeling like we need to band together during this crazy timeframe. I keep looking at what I like about my home, what I don't, and ways to make it better. And I also have been dreaming up new ways to enjoy my time when I'm at home and not showing houses. What ways have you come up with to not go stir crazy, and enjoy your time indoors? And what are you grateful for in your home? I'd love to hear from you. Let's stick together even though we're 6 feet apart.
PS...And if you have any homes you'd like to see let me know. If you're looking for a different indoors to be in, we follow safety protocols and are able to put together home tours for you.
1. Tackle your number one priority first.
We often spend lots of time managing our to-do lists. To ensure you stay focused and have energy for what's most important, choose your most important priority each day and tackle it first. Otherwise lots of other little, less important things might get in the way and you never get to the thing that can really move the needle for you.
3. Break down your tasks
We often get overwhelmed by big projects. Break down your tasks until they are so small that they seem completely doable. For example: Rather than listing your task as “Create a presentation”, the first task could be “Brainstorm for 5 minutes what to include in the presentation.”
Wishing you a productive and happy fall season!
Manuela is a Career and Life Happiness Coach and enjoys helping professionals create a career and life they love. For more practical tips on boosting your productivity, check out her Productivity course: https://www.pauercoaching.com/productivity-training/