Archive for July, 2009

Consumer Survey

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Study shows extra services mean a lot to buyers, sellers

Inspections, appraisals and even moving company recommendations provided by real estate companies are becoming increasingly more important to home buyers and sellers, according to a study released this week.

The study, which analyzes customer satisfaction, was performed by JD Power and Associates. The firm analyzed more than 3,100 evaluations from 2,801 respondents who bought or sold a home between April 2007 and June 2008.

According to the survey, overall satisfaction of buyers and sellers is still based most on their experiences with their agents. However, the importance of additional services that real estate companies provide has grown by 12 percentage points among buyers and 8 percentage points among sellers in the past year.

Jim Howland, senior director of the real estate and construction practice at JD Power and Associates, says that every aspect of service offered will be scrutinized very closely in a tight market.

"For this reason, it is critical for real estate companies to promote the value that they bring to buyers and sellers, not only in any additional services they offer, but also in their agents and operations." 

For more information on the survey, please click here

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All That Jazz with Gino!

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If you’re interested in attending a great networking party, join Gino on tomorrow – Wednesday, July 29 at the Silicon Valley Capital Club for an exclusive charity event to raise money for the Valley Medical Center Foundation.

Once a month, the Capital Club holds a “celebrity bartender” fundraising event where they invite people to their club at the top of the Knight Ridder building in downtown San Jose. Enjoy insane views of the Valley! Share in wine and appetizers hosted by the Capital Club, listen to live jazz and network. All bartender tips are donated to the foundation.

Gino will be joining Chris Wilder, executive director for the VMC Foundation and Brenna Bolger, founder and CEO of PRx, as a bartender in support of the VMC Foundation, the arm that raises money for the Santa Clara Valley Health and Hospital System.

It’s going to be an excellent event, so take the time to come and join in the fun!

Date: Wednesday – July 29
Time: 6:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
Location: Silicon Valley Capital Club


South County a Hidden Gem for Families

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As a resident of South County (Morgan Hill, San Martin, and Gilroy, California) since 1974, I have witnessed first hand the growth and development that we have become proud to be a part of. In 1974, the populations of Morgan Hill and Gilroy combined did not exceed 15,000 residents. Today controlled growth initiatives have seen both communities gently and tastefully expand to approximately 34,000 in Morgan Hill and 42,000 in Gilroy. Pastoral surroundings compliment our great schools, numerous parks, and exceptional recreation facilities making Morgan Hill and Gilroy family “havens”. Statistics embellish the family “canvas”:

As of July 21, 2009 MLS reports 304 active listings in South County (Area 1) of which 137 are listed under the very affordable price point of $700,000. Buyers must be alerted to the most current trends because the market has heated up suggesting the plausibility that we have reached the bottom of this very deep recessionary period.

Some Intero statistics of interest include:

  • Listings this month compared to this month last year are up 33%
  • Sales are up 21%
  • July 2009 enjoys a 50% increase in closed escrows over this time last year. Active listings have declined and pending sales have increased over the last 60 days illustrating more market activity.
  • Lending guidelines are beginning for the first time in eighteen months to relax a little allowing more borrowers to qualify for loans under 6% APR. FHA conforming loans allow buyers to purchase their homes with as little as 3.5% down.

What does all of this mean? In my thirty-year real estate career I cannot remember a better buying opportunity in South County than right now.


If There Ever Was a Time to Buy, This Is It!

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Five Reasons Why Now is the Perfect Time to Buy-

  1. Low Mortgage rates – Bankrate.com recently reported, that mortgage rates are at their lowest point ever in their survey taking history. They have been conducting rate surveys since September 1985. The national average for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage is very near 5%. This is great news for buyers.  If you read or listen to the news, you will see that refinancing has increased dramatically.  Why do you think this is? Any further rate drops are likely to be minimal.  One thing that you can count on, when rates begin to rise, they go up much faster then they go down.  The current interest rates alone, is a really good reason to consider purchasing a home.
  2. Housing Prices –  Everyone knows that housing prices are down in most regions.  Do you think prices are going to continue to decline?  Perhaps, but most of the decrease is now reflected in today’s prices.  The number of sales and median prices have been rising steadily in the Bay Area since the first of the year. Multiple offers have become very common in the lower price range.  See for yourself at BayAreaMarketMetrics.com.  Now you have two good reasons to buy.
  3. Seller Motivation –  Due to the current market conditions, it is pretty easy to identify motivated sellers.  In many instances, you can easily find a motivated seller by looking at the property description. Look for keywords such as: “motivated seller,” “make an offer,” or “must sell.”  Be sure your agent is on the lookout for consistent price reductions. If you like the property and the seller is motivated, then you should seriously consider making an offer.  If you don’t, chances are someone else will and you will have missed your opportunity.  Don’t let that happen to you.
  4. Tax Advantages –  Current tax law allows homeowners to deduct interest paid on mortgages and the amount of paid property taxes. If you are paying rent, you do not qualify for these deductions. The Federal and California State governments are also offering incentives.  The most widely publicized are the Federal $8,000 first time home buyer tax credit and the California $10,000 tax credit for a new home purchase. This makes a great opportunity even more incredible.  For find out if you qualify for one or both of these home buyer tax credits, check with your Realtor®.
  5. Timing – You must have heard the expression “buy low and sell high,” right? It might even be your mantra. As with any investment, it is ideal to purchase when prices are low rather than at their peak. However, if you are waiting to purchase a home because you believe prices will continue to drop, you will likely miss out of an ideal opportunity. The time to “buy low” is right now. Once everyone comes to the realization that prices may already be at their lowest point, then you can rest assured that buyers will jump in and start buying. In the lower price range multiple offers are becoming more common.  Remember, the best deals will be the first target.

Now you know, this is a great time to buy a house.  There is plenty of inventory, interest rates are low, house prices are down, sellers are motivated, you can take a tax deduction and you may qualify for up to  $18,000 in tax credits. The timing is perfect. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain.


Great time to buy investment real estate? Depends.

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In the single family home market, prices are down significantly. Interest rates are also at close to all-time lows.  So, yes, all indicators are pointing to a great buyers market.

The apartment market is different altogether. First time buyer financing is harder to get and also due to many foreclosures making homeowners into tenants, there are far more renters in the marketplace than normally would be. Therefore, rental rates are up and vacancies are down. Most apartment owners are happy and not very motivated to sell.  Read: no good deals here.

The one opportunity I see is in the duplex – fourplex market. Here there has been financial trouble because of the loose financing that occurred. Compare this to the financing of apartment buildings above 4 units, which has always been very conservative. There are short sales and bank owned foreclosures to be had in the duplex – fourplex market.

With rents healthy… yes, this is indeed a good time to buy a home.


Intero International

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Javier Parraga new President of Intero International Franchise Services

Intero has hired Javier Parraga, an international franchise veteran, to become President of Intero International Franchise Services, Inc. In that role, Parraga will work to expand the Intero brand across the globe.  

"I’m thrilled to now be a part of the Intero team," Parraga says. "And I’m excited about the opportunity to bring this successful and innovative brand into the Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East and Central and South America regions." 

Parraga is a former executive with real estate conglomerate Realogy Corp. He joined HFS, which became Cendant and is now Realogy, in 1996, and has since negotiated and signed more than 100 master franchise agreements covering more than 150 countries and territories. 

Intero Chairman Bob Moles worked with Parraga at Cendant when Moles was chairman at Cendant’s Real Estate Franchise Group. 

"Javier is the finest International Franchise sales executive I have ever met in the world," Moles says.  "We are honored to have Javier’s leadership as Intero International Franchise Services embarks on growing the Intero® brand around the world.


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Intero Goes International with Javier Parraga

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javier-paragga1CUPERTINO, CA (JULY 16, 2009) – International franchise veteran Javier Parraga, a former top executive with real estate conglomerate Realogy Corporation, has joined the Intero® family of companies as President of Intero International Franchise Services, Inc. (Intero).  Parraga has been tasked by Bob Moles, Chairman and Gino Blefari, President and CEO, to expand the Intero® brand worldwide.

After leaving as an executive vice president of Realogy Corporation, Parraga took some time off and has now chosen to embark on a new venture with Intero; the number one real estate company in Silicon Valley.  An accomplished strategist and sales professional, his vision and international expertise on franchise development within the real estate sector has driven notable growth and network expansion throughout the world.  Since joining HFS (which became Cendant and is now Realogy) in 1996 he has successfully negotiated and signed over 100 master franchise agreements covering over 150 countries and territories.  As a result of Mr. Parraga’s hard work, more than 6,500 offices outside the U.S. are now affiliated with Realogy’s brands.

“I’m thrilled to now be a part of the Intero team,” Parraga said in a statement today.  “And I’m excited about the opportunity to bring this successful and innovative brand into the Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East and Central and South America regions.”

Parraga’s connection with Intero stems from his relationship with Bob Moles.  Moles and Parraga were instrumental in the formation and development of Cendant’s (now Realogy) Global Services department.  When he was Chairman of Cendant’s Real Estate Franchise Group, Moles originally assigned Parraga responsibility for the development of Cendant’s real estate brands throughout the world.  “Javier is the finest International Franchise sales executive I have ever met in the world.  It was a privilege to work with him for seven years at Cendant,” said Moles.  “Now, we are honored to have Javier’s leadership as Intero International Franchise Services embarks on growing the Intero® brand around the world.”

Under the leadership of Blefari and Moles, the Intero brand has grown from one office to more than 50 company-owned and franchised offices in less than 7 years, encompassing more than 2,000 agents. Today, the Intero system has offices in California, Colorado, Nevada, Texas and Mexico.  “I could not be more excited for Intero and the opportunity that lies ahead for us internationally under the leadership of Javier,” said Blefari.

Born in Ecuador as the youngest of seven siblings, Parraga immigrated with his family to the United States at the age of 3.  He was raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C.

To schedule an exclusive interview with Gino Blefari or Javier Parraga contact Teressa Francis at +1 408 342 3010 or email Teressa at tfrancis@interorealestate.com.


The Intero Insider: California homebuyers and sellers: Internet savvy, but inexperienced and often far apart

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Last week we had the privilege of hosting Leslie Appleton-Young, Chief Economist for the California Association of REALTORS, at a company-wide meeting.

Leslie presented results from her recent survey of California homebuyers and sellers. The results were illuminating and produced some insights that may help you as you think through your next real estate move.

Here are just a few:

  • Many of today’s buyers and sellers are real estate rookies. 38% percent of buyers surveyed in 2009 were first-timers. That’s up from 12% in 2002 and a historic high. 44% of sellers in 2009 were first-timers. That’s a lot of people that have never been through a transaction. If you’re anxious or confused about something, chances are the people on the other side of the deal are too. So be patient and recognize both sides are working toward the same goal of a closed transaction.
  • The market may be stabilizing, but buyer and seller expectations are far from matched. 70% of buyers surveyed in 2009 reported making one or more offers before closing on a property. 47% percent of buyers who had transactions fall apart cited seller unwillingness to accept comprises as the reason. If you’re a seller this is yet another sign that buyers are out there – if you price right.
  • Buyers are not using the newspaper. Only 12% of buyers surveyed in 2009 used the newspaper to find their home. Moreover, a strong marketing plan ranked as the #1 reason sellers cited for choosing their agent. If you’re a seller, don’t get hung up on having your home in the paper – it’s unlikely to make any impact on the sale of your home – but do make sure an agent has the online bases covered.

My take? We’re in a market that’s still not quite settled back into balance at the same time the very nature of how homes are marketed – and how consumers find them – is changing.

This makes for some challenges in the near-term, but will, in time, produce a more efficient marketplace.

I think we can all look forward to that.


Real Estate Conference

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Intero to be represented at Inman News’ Real Estate Connect conference

Intero’s Tom Tognoli is slated to be a featured speaker at Inman News’ Real Estate Connect conference in San Francisco next month.

More than 1,500 leaders from real estate, technology, lending, title and financial services are expected to attend the conference Aug. 5-7th at the Palace Hotel.

Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman will deliver the keynote address. He will discuss how to build loyalty through word-of-mouth technology and how to engage a buying community.

Other speakers include:

The day before the conference, California Association of Realtor’s Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young will speak at a program called  “Gain the EDUTIZING Edge: How to build your business by giving today’s buyers and sellers what they really value—local market insight!”

See Also

  • Intero Real Estate Services- Find Real Estate, Property For Sale, Homes For Sale
    Intero Real Estate Services is one of the premier real estate brokerages. Find real estate, properties and homes for sale in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada and Texas.
  • Inman News
    Inman News is the leading source of independent real estate news, information, advice, research, opinion and commentary for industry professionals and consumers alike.
  • California Association of Realtors
    The California Association of Realtors is one of the largest state trade organizations in the United States, with more than 155,000 members dedicated to the advancement of professionalism in real estate.

The Intero Insider: Signs of life, but will they “trickle up?”

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I’ve been in real estate for twenty-five years. I’ve been through down markets before. And I know how they end.

It never varies: The recovery always starts at the entry level. The demographic forces that drive long-term demand for California housing eventually pull first time buyers back into the market.

These first time buyers buy from sellers who themselves “move up” to higher priced homes. This “trickle up” effect eventually reaches the high-end of the market.

And so a recovery goes.

So it was encouraging to me that data from REInfolink, Silicon Valley’s MLS, showed extremely strong activity at the market’s entry level this month. Moreover, in the first week in June our number of pending listings exceeded new listings for the first time since July of 2005. This is an indicator of a healthier supply/demand balance.

In fact, at Intero, we saw the number of closed transactions increase over 48% year-over-year.

Clearly, buyers at the market’s entry level have decided that we are at or near the bottom. The new $8,000 federal tax credit provides extra incentive to move. And according to a recent Gallup poll, 71% of Americans think it is now a good time to buy a home.

So we’re on our way to recovery, right? Perhaps. But it’s going to take longer than recoveries past.

Here’s why: The majority of the sellers in today’s market are banks, not people.

In fact, according to DataQuick, a provider of real estate market data, 55% of California home sales in May were properties that had been foreclosed on in the prior twelve months.

The number of REO or “bank owned” listings in our market is staggering. These are properties banks have repossessed from foreclosed homeowners and must sell.

When a bank-owned listing is sold, there are no sellers – real people — to “move up” into their own purchase at a higher price, no seller who sells to them, and so on. There’s just a bank selling a foreclosed home.

You see my point: The market is moving in a positive direction, but the climb up from the bottom is likely to be a little longer this time.

This is great news if you’re a buyer or investor: Prices at all levels of the market remain attractive. If you’re a seller – particularly at the high end – you must continue to price aggressively to sell.

In the meantime, I’ll be looking for signs the market recovery is moving upward.