Category Archives: California Real Estate

Staging tips for sellers!

Even though San Diego’s coastal communities stretching from La Jolla to Carlsbad and inland to Fairbanks Ranch are in a strong seller’s market resulting in multiple offer situations, sellers should make the investment in staging their condo, townhome or house to make it look its best to appeal to the widest range of buyers to maximize offers.

The first step of staging any home – whether it is a condo in Carlsbad or an estate in Rancho Santa Fe is to store away or remove clutter. By depersonalizing your home you allow potential buyers to picture themselves living in the house. A fresh coat of paint is inexpensive and always makes a home feel refreshed and new. Adding lighting or making sure your home is making the most of natural light is also important as plenty of light will show off your home and make it seem inviting. Lastly, make sure your home makes a great first impression by focusing on the curb appeal. Be sure bushes and trees are trimmed and pruned, lawns are manicured and that any flower beds are well-maintained.

Though you can do a lot of things yourself, it might make sense to invest in professionals who have the expertise to showcase your home to the widest range of potential buyers to help your property sell.

For more on this topic, check out this great article on HGTV’s

Hot sellers market means buyers need to be prepared this Spring


This Spring, we are continuing to see a hot seller’s market in San Diego. Buyers should check out the great tips in the MSN article below to be prepared. In addition to having financing in place before you start looking, working with great, experienced, professional agents such as the Geller-Meier Team is on the top of the list! Give us a call to schedule a consultation – we’d love to share our strategies with you!

Click here for MSN’s 12 Tips


Happy Earth Day! Celebrate by reducing water usage!

Happy Earth Day! We have all seen the signs around town about “When in Drought” and know that we have water use restrictions in place.  What better way to celebrate Earth Day in San Diego County than to take time to consider how to reduce our water usage.

Inside our homes we can switch to low flow toilets and showerheads, as well as high efficiency washing machines.  We can regularly check toilets and faucets to make sure they are not leaking. Of course, reducing the amount of time we shower and turning off the faucet while brushing our teeth can also contribute greatly.


As a homeowner, there is another way to reduce water usage to switch to watersmart landscaping.  The San Diego County Water Authority and its member agencies are partnering with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to offer FREE training classes this month and next on WaterSmart landscaping. The classes introduce a holistic approach to landscape design and maintenance that emphasizes water-use efficiency.  Click here to learn more!

California Friendly Landscape Training Classes

Experience is important in a hot market!

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It comes as no surprise to us that CNN Money has ranked San Diego as the forth hottest real estate market in 2015. Inventory is low and turnover is quick.  During this strong market experienced agents provide exceptional value more then ever.

As a seller’s agent, we have been in the area for over 20 years and understand the market. We are experts in the San Diego Coastal area and can help you market and price your property to get top dollar.

 As a buyer’s agent, our experience enables us to understand what our clients are looking for so that we are ready to show properties that are a right fit as soon as they are available and use our experience to advise you to make the right offer in a timely manner to get your dream home.


Contact us at to let us show you how we can help you.

 To read more about the hot markets of 2015:

Succesfully Negotiating the Purchase of a Home

Negotiating the transaction is usually the most complex aspect of buying a home.  At the same time, it’s the one that can involve the most creativity and the most impact on the bottom line – i.e. whether you end up with the home and at what price. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced and savvy REALTOR® who has successfully worked through many different transaction scenarios. That said, what follows are a few strategies for negotiating a good deal in a buyer’s market like this one, all of which involve the following key fundamentals:

  • presenting yourself as a serious buyer while, at the same time, keeping your emotions in check
  • trying to understand and respect the priorities of the seller
  • being creative and, where necessary, willing to compromise to get the deal done.

Strike A Balance – Motivated But Not Too Eager

For you, as a buyer in a buyers’ market, it all starts before you even make an offer, the first time you see that home you think might be THE ONE. It’s important that not give yourself away to the listing agent or seller by getting too excited about your “find”. If anything, ask a few questions, maybe take a few notes, and let your REALTOR® do all of the talking. The point is that ideally you’re trying to strike a balance by appearing, on the one hand, to be a qualified, motivated buyer while, on the other hand, not appearing to be too eager. Several ways you can demonstrate you’re a serious buyer:

  • Have already sold your present home (if you have one)or make it clear that you’re not dependent upon selling in order to buy
  • Make an all-cash offer or show that you’ve been pre-approved for a loan
  • Provide an attractive “earnest” deposit with the offer
  • Make a reasonable offer that doesnt offend and still gives you room to negotiate your price

Not only will this approach show that you’re qualified and motivated, it will place you in a stronger negotiating position overall. The sellers won’t want to lose you and will be more inclined to reduce their price a little and/or make some concessions with respect to terms.

Understand And Respect The Seller’s Priorities, (aside from getting the highest price)

If, through the negotiations, you can find out more about the seller’s situation – their motivation and priorities – you’ll not only improve your position, but you’ll also be able to resolve any obstacles more creatively and sensitively.  For instance, if a seller is adamant about a certain closing date, you might be able to get them to concede some other terms including price.  Or if they are skeptical about your ability to obtain a loan in this current mortgage environment, they may value a higher downpayment more heavily and concede on sales price. There are no “one size fits all” approaches to negotiating.  In principle, though, the more you know about the seller’s priorities, the more you’ll be able to work with them in order to achieve your own goals. While a home’s sale price is generally the focus of negotiations, often sellers will have needs such that the terms of purchase can significantly influence the final deal. Here are some elements in the purchase agreement that you might put on the table for discussion:

  • A larger downpayment (smaller amount to be financed)
  • The amount of earnest money deposit you provide
  • Closing and Possession Dates
  • Inclusion of furniture, fixtures, etc., not considered part of the property
  • Payment for repairs required by your lender
  • Payment of taxes, utilities and rents
  • Payment of title search and insurance
  • Payment of survey, transfer taxes and recording fees
  • Payment of general and termite inspections
  • Payment of attorney’s or escrow fees

The contract delineates these terms clearly, but still should be carefully reviewed and fully understood by both you and the seller so that you’re on the same page and the negotiations move forward.

Will you be sorry if you lose this home?  If so, DON’T!

Even in a buyers’ market like this one, if you’re really interested in buying the home you’re negotiating over – if it really is THE ONE – you should be willing to make some compromises to make the deal happen. If that’s not the case, then you should listen to your heart and consider looking for another home.

In summary, the key to successful negotiations is to remember your priorities and respect the seller’s – don’t let small things get in the way of your better judgment, and don’t ascribe nefarious intentions to the sellers’ actions.  They are doing exactly what you are doing – negotiating for the terms that are in their best interest.

The Home Buying Process: Step 6

Secure Your Financing

Obtaining a mortgageOnce you have a pending agreement with the seller, it’s time to go back to your chosen lender to finalize your mortgage details so you can close the deal. This means finalizing your down payment, interest rate, regular payment schedule and any other financial conditions associated with the closing. As noted in the section on loan pre-approval, if you’ve already been qualified with a lender for a certain loan and home purchase, this phase of buying your new home should be a relatively straightforward matter that centers around finalizing the loan details and signing the mortgage papers. That said, it can definitely provide peace of mind if you have an experienced REALTOR® by your side at the time to explain every aspect of your mortgage. Indeed, your future may depend on it. As the old saying goes, ‘buyer beware’. Particularly in these times, when so many buyers are suffering the consequences of having not fully understood their financing decisions, it’s crucial for you to work with people you trust. In this regard, a good REALTOR® can be a true friend for life. For more information on the loan process itself, see my next post detailing the steps involved.

Read previous installments of this series here:

The home buying process – Overview

The home buying process – Step 1: Define, Research, Plan

The home buying process – Step 2: Find a Realtor

The home buying process – Step 3: Pick a Lender and Get PreApproved

The home buying process – Step 4: Find THE Home

The home buying process – Step 5: Make An Offer And Negotiate With The Seller

The Home Buying Process: Step 5

Make An Offer And Negotiate With The Seller

Now that you’ve found the home you’d like to buy, it’s time to make an offer.  Your local real estate association,

The Perfect Pad...

working with legal counsel, has developed the contracts that are used for transactions.  Here in Caifornia, the California Association of REALTOR®s rewrites and updates these contracts every couple of years – editing to eliminate any ambiguitities that may have led to misunderstandings or lawsuits.  They not only enable you to specify a sale price but they include many clauses for specifying various terms of the purchase, such as the closing and possession dates, your deposit amount, time periods for inspections or acquiring a loan, etc, and other conditions. You should carefully review these clauses with your REALTOR® to ensure you understand the subtle nuances of the contract and to make sure they express the ideal terms for your offer.

In addition to drawing up the contact for you, your REALTOR® should address all your questions about the offer process.  Take advantage on their knowledge and expertise and make sure you take the time to go over it carefully and understand the process fully.  It surprises me how many people do not make this a priority…

Once you’ve written the offer, your REALTOR® will present it to the seller and the seller’s representative.  This is ideally done in person, so your agent can “pitch” it to them, advocating on your behalf and making a case for you as a stong and viable buyer.  At that point, the process depends largely on the market you’re in, the needs and priorities of both you and the seller, and the negotiating skills of the agents on both sides.  The seller can accept your offer, reject it, or counter it to initiate the negotiation process. Successive counter-offers, with deadlines for responding and meeting conditions, will be exchanged between you and the seller until a mutually-satisfactory agreement is reached or the negotiations reach a dead end. 

Negotiations can involve many factors, many of which will be discussed in greater detail in a later post Negotiating The Deal on a Home Purchase, to follow soon.

Read previous installments of this series here:

The home buying process – Overview

The home buying process – Step 1: Define, Research, Plan

The home buying process – Step 2: Find a Realtor

The home buying process – Step 3: Pick a Lender and Get PreApproved

The home buying process – Step 4: Find THE Home

The Home Buying Process: Step 4

View Homes And Select THE ONE

Define what you want!

Simply put, key to the home search process is knowing what you’re looking for.  Among other things, that means distinguishing between “must-haves” and “like-to-haves”. To help you to target your search and define your home preference priorities, look at the form at the bottom of this post.

That said, here are a few recent facts about the search process that might put your experience in perspective:
• More than 90% of buyers use the Internet to search for homes*
• The typical buyer searches for 12 weeks and views 12 homes*
• 81% of buyers view real estate agents as very helpful in the search process*
*National Association Of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 2010.

Take advantage of the internet and do your homework online

There are many benefits to starting the search process at a real estate website like  Better yet, use your own REALTOR®’s website, assuming they have a direct IDX feed, i.e. a direct feed to the local MLS database.   Moreover, by using your REALTOR®’s website, he or she is able to view your saved searches and “favori te” properties. You can view many homes and their details, take video tours and access neighborhood info.  Sites such as redfin, zillow and trulia are often out of date, so it’s better to avoid them or you may happen upon your dreamhome only to find out that it closed several months ago.

View homes with your REALTOR®

While doing homework online is a huge time saver, it’s also important to view homes in person. Even when property details and videos are provided online, homes can actually be very different in terms of layout, design, workmanship and other aspects than they appear. In addition, you should ideally view homes with the help of your REALTOR®, not simply on your own at an open house, as she may notice things you might miss, provide expert analysis, and act as an impartial sounding board.  Some find it helpful to start by visiting open houses on their own, but once you start zeroing, get your agent to schedule appointments and accompany you.

Home search worksheet

Main Requirements
Price range: ______________________ Lot size: _________________________
Area: ___________________________ Square footage: ___________________
Detached/Attached: ________________ Number of bedrooms: ______________
House style(s): ____________________ Number of bathrooms: ______________
Age of property: ___________________ Garage: __________________________

Specific features
(e.g., site location, view, large lot, pool, fireplace, basement, garage size, distance to school or work, additional room preferences, layout, etc.):
Additional comments

Read previous installments of this series here:

The home buying process – Overview

The home buying process – Step 1: Define, Research, Plan

The home buying process – Step 2: Find a Realtor

The home buying process – Step 3: Pick a Lender and Get PreApproved

The home buying process – Step 4: Find THE Home

Importance of Securing Insurance When Buying a Home

The steps involved in the process of purchasing a home vary from state to state.  Regardless of where you are buying, for most, it the single biggest investment in one’s life – and often represents the largest debt you will ever incur.

In the state of California, particularly in today’s ever-changing real estate market, home buyers require many tools and resources to find their family’s dream home and close on it smoothly.  As a North San Diego County real estate agent, based in Del Mar CA, one of the steps that is often overlooked is researching and securing home owner’s insurance prior to releasing contingencies.  While it may seem like a trivial step, there are a number of pitfalls you may encounter – and you should be sure to have all your ducks in a row, well before the deadline hits, and you venture beyond the point of no return.

Here are a few of the things that can cause a problem in obtaining insurance:

  • the home has a “black mark” against it because of a prior claim
  • you yourself have been “red flagged” because of a prior claim you filed on a previous property
  • in the purchase of a condo, the master policy may not have enough coverage to satisfy the lender you are using
  • the neighborhood the home is in may have high premiums or may be uninsurable altogether because of a previous natural disaster like a fire or flood.

The list goes on, but the point is, it is critical to shop for and get a commitment for an insurance policy well before you need to release contingencies and commit to moving forward.  If you release contingencies without having done so, you may end up not being able to perform on the purchase and risk losing your deposit – potentially thousands of dollars!

For more information about the process of buying a home in North San Diego County, read our series here:

The home buying process – Overview

The home buying process – Step 1: Define, Research, Plan

The home buying process – Step 2: Contact a Realtor


For a more personal consultation, give us a call: 760-815-1318.

The Home Buying Process: Step 3

Pick Your Lender and Get Pre-Approved For A Loan!!

Pick a lender

Shopping for a lender and a loan is NOT something to start doing after your offer is accepted, when you’re on a tight timeline that contractually MUST be met.  Choose someone before you find the home you want to buy – someone not only with competitive rates, but with whom you have a rapport, who is creative and knowledgeable, who does not over promise and under deliver. Again, a recommendation from a trusted friend, colleague or family member is usually the best way to find a good lender or broker.  Ask the person recommending about their referral’s communication skills, their timeliness, and their knowledge. A good mortgage broker will help you analyze the particulars of your financial situation and goals and give you options that are specifically suited to you.

The broker will also advise and guide you throughout the process, making sure you know not only what you qualify for and what you need to do to secure the loan, but coordinate the various people involved – from appraisers to underwriters to insurance agents –and keep them on track. As soon as you start viewing homes with the serious intention of buying, interview and select a mortgage broker.

Get prequalified

It has become convention to submit a prequalification letter when presenting or submitting an offer.  The prequalification process involves a brief conversation regarding your financial situation including income and assets with your lender, and an assessment of the kind of loan product you would qualify for.  On the basis of this examination the lender will provide you with a letter detailing how much you can borrow to buy a home.  This prequalification is still subject to verification and credit check.

Prequalification vs preapproval

While having a prequalification letter to submit with your offer is good, a preapproval letter is even better.  The pre-approval process generally involves meeting with a lender, filling out an application and authorizing the detailed examination of your current financial situation and credit history.  You submit all necessary documentation and get in return a much more sold commitment letter regarding your ability to obtain a loan.

The benefits of pre-qualification and pre-approval include:

  • You’ll have information about what you can afford and be able to plan accordingly
  • As a pre-qualified, motivated buyer you’ll be taken more seriously when you make an offer on a home
  • Lenders can tell you whether you qualify for any special programs that will enable you to afford a better home (particularly if you’re a first-time buyer)
  • You will have a head start on the time lines once escrow starts which will give you some breathing room and make the process much less stressful.

Real estate financing is available from many sources, and an experienced REALTOR® will be able to suggest lenders with a history of offering excellent mortgage products and services. For more information about the benefits of pre-approval and the loan process in general, give us a call.

To read previous installments of the series, click below:

The home buying process – Overview

The home buying process – Step 1: Define, Research, Plan

The home buying process – Step 2: Find a Realtor

The home buying process – Step 3: Pick a Lender and Get PreApproved

The home buying process – Step 4: Find THE Home