State of Real Estate in The SF Bay Area: A Moment with Nancie Allen, Broker at Masterkey Real Estate
Question: Can you walk us though your career path?
Answer: I’m a born and bred Fremont resident. I moved here when I was 2 and I went to the public schools here. I still live about a mile from where I grew up. I went to school and then started getting into jobs that had to do with real estate. I worked at the Fremont Chamber of Commerce for nine years met a lot of wonderful people and Realtors. I then worked with somebody in property management and then somebody who was an architect. The more I got into real estate, the more I realized I loved it. I took my classes and went to work at Mission Mortgage. Four years later got my broker's license and started my own business. I loved it! I am still living in Fremont and am still married to my husband who helps me so much in my business- I couldn't do it without him- but it's just a wonderful field to be in.
Question: Once you had your own office, what was it like to get your first sale?
Answer: That very first sale was very scary. Although I had just got my license, you still need a wonderful mentor to help you and I had that. When I went on my own it was such a good feeling. Being able to do your business the way you want to do it is great. Catch the people that you work with at all different times of their lives; sometimes it's a new couple looking for their first home. Other times the people you work with are downsizing. Sometimes a relative has passed away and the family is selling their home. Because of all these different situations, you get to work with people at all different stages of their lives. I can't tell you how fulfilling and wonderful it is.
Question: How did you come be become the President-Elect of the Bay East Realtor Association?
Answer: Many years ago I did the inspiration for Doreen Roberts, then president in 2012. Afterwards someone came up to me and said I should think about being president of this organization. I said that will never happen and then I got involved in the Professional Standards Committee. Ethics was very important to me. Then I became a chairperson of the committee for several years and then I got on the board of directors and little by little I found out that I loved being a part of that as well and being part of the solution in our business. I am also a director for the California Association of Realtors I sit on that board. The more you get involved the more you affect your own profession.
Question: How big is this Association? What is it geographic area does it cover?
Answer: Bay East is pretty much Alameda County- not Oakland & Berkeley but because they have their own Association. We're Fremont to Pleasanton to San Leandro. We're all over and about 6,000 members.
Question: How often do you meet?
Answer: There are several committees where members are involved meet. The board meets once a month and then the Executive Committee meets once a month as well. It is a very well-run organization.
We've been hitting national headlines of the highest cost of living, why is it real estate soaring like it is?
Question: What is the state of the real estate market now in the bay area?.
Answer: Well people are saying or in a housing crisis and the honest answer is we live in a place where people love to be. We have so many things available to us: sports teams, the warriors, the giants, the A's, we have shopping, we are so close to everything, we have great universities around here which are graduating wonderful people that want to work here, we have biotech, we have engineering, we have all kinds of jobs available for them but we don't have is a lot of housing. So they come here to work and then they don't have a place to live. Inventory is down, and we're seeing more and more condominiums and town homes being built- which people are calling the high density housing. The reason for that is that they conserve water, they conserve energy, you can build a lot of units in a small amount of space and you get people housing that they need to be able to live near where they work. When people can't live where they work then we have traffic issues which were all seeing. I think we need to understand and realize is that we're all going to start living a little closer together and we're going to continue to see the traffic issues.
Question: For a person moving into the bay area that really wants to get into a home, is there any strategy of how you win on the multiple offer market?
Answer: It's really difficult, I will tell you that even in Newark and Union City the median priced home now is over a million dollars so even starting to go out a little bit from Fremont- and I'm focusing on Fremont because that's where we are- prices are continuing to go up, so when working with the buyer you have to make sure you're pre-approved when you're going to go in with your offer, you're going to be either the leader or the follower so if you need to go in you need to go in strong because if you keep being the follower you're going to keep seeing prices go up and you're not going to get in. I hold open houses and I've seen the same couples come through for six months. When they were looking, prices were maybe $50k to $100k less when they first started. But because they're scared- and I understand it, we're talking about a lot of money- but they're scared to jump in and be the leader they're just going to watch prices go up while other people get the properties.
Question: How do the banks respond to constant increase in prices? Are they willingly to keep on pre-approving you for a million dollar-plus and Loans?
Answer: Hopefully they are not going to do what we had last time which was people were getting into loans that they really couldn't afford and that's when we had that big housing crash, but I have seen the banks being much more reliable. They're looking at what people can really afford and you can only get a loan up to what you can really afford. The scary thing is when you jump out there, if you have if you don't have a lot of money behind you, and the house doesn't appraise for your offer, you have to come up with that difference between what the bank will lend and the difference in the appraisal so you also have to have some money behind you to when you're doing this.
Question: Are you seeing a lot of cash offers?
Answer: Not as many as we used to. They're still out there, but a lot of this is all through lenders.
Question: Nancy recently in the news we hit headlines here in Fremont with the sale of a $1.2 million dollar condemned property, I'd love to hear the story about that.
Answer: Yes it did make news. It was in the mission area and because schools are always location, location, location, people want to live there. They paid $1.2 million dollars knowing they were going to then tear it down. We also see that people will get into whatever they can, so they were able to get into that and they'll do what they want with it. People will get into older properties and do exactly the same thing, people are getting into older properties knowing that at some point they're going to have to do some major renovations, not quite as scary as that one was, but knowing that they're going to get into some renovations down the road. So people are getting into whatever they can because of the lack of inventory.
Question: Right now we're seeing a lot of new construction that's higher density housing going up, is that going to solve the problem?
Answer: I don't know that there is a way to solve this problem, I don't know if they can build enough homes to solve it. It's up and down the state that we're having this issue, it's not just our area, but definitely in the Bay Area like I said before people want to live here and so as long as people want to live here, we're going to have to be building a lot of housing. People aren't moving like they used to their staying in their homes, they have children grandchildren maybe even living with them now in their homes, so there's not that inventory that we used to see. With the new housing, the younger buyers actually like the new housing, they like moving into something new, they don't mind stairs- my knees mine stairs at my age- but the younger buyers and some of the even middle-aged whatever, but they don't mind having to climb up and down the stairs. And the new units are efficient with water, they're efficient with energy and they're built with today's building standards. I think we're going to start seeing a lot more of the high density.
Question: I've seen areas where whole neighborhoods are being torn down in favor of high-density housing, do you see the trend continuing?
Answer: I think it's going to have to do something like that in order to help leave alive some of our pressure of needing housing, if we could build more housing more people work, that would be a great a great idea for traffic, it's just there's only so much land.
Question: I want to do a little bit of role-playing, okay so I'm a new resident to the Bay Area saying what I'm seeing is unbelievable. I got an option between renting- which rents are astronomical or buying a home and I'd rather get the predictable into the future, so how would you advise me as a new buyer the steps that I should be taking and how do I properly prepare myself to get into this market.
Answer: Well as a new buyer hopefully you have lots of money in your bank account for a down payment, so we find a lot of new buyers or actually have been living with family or their parents or somebody trying to save all their money as much as they can because you realize if you're putting 20% down on a million dollar house, that's two hundred thousand dollars that you need to have to put down and those numbers are staggering to people. But assuming you have the money, you definitely want to get pre-approved and you want to find the area that you want to live in and then we always try and look for maybe the worst house in the area that maybe people won't be as interested in, some people are afraid of doing some kind of work and renovations and others welcome it, so you work with each one individually, you prepare them and then you jump in with both feet that's the only way you're gonna get a house in this market.
Question: So right now, even though people are we've never seen property at this price, there's nothing really showing itself to slow it down?
Answer: As long as there's demand and not enough housing it's usually gonna drive the price up. If you talk to ten different an economists, you'll get ten different answers on what's going on, but typically it all comes down to supply and demand and right now the area is definitely in demand.
Question: Would you say that the new buyers are people already in the area?
Answer: No it's a mix, they're still coming in from the area, like I said a lot of people have just gotten jobs in the area and now they're thinking where do I live? Where do I go?
Question: How does the market in Pleasanton compare back to the inner circle of the Bay?
Answer: Pleasanton prices have always remained consistent and they go up on a consistent level. Their inventory is low like everybody else, it's geographically if you go around you can see how in some areas the inventory is a little better, but price is pretty much overall are going up everywhere around.
Question: Is there a specific region on the market that you specialize in?
Answer: I do tri-City, tri-valley mostly so Newark, Fremont, Union City, Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin those areas.
Question: What's your approach to a person saying, Nancy help me sell my home.
Answer: Well for me, I only represent one side so I would only represent the seller if I'm going to help them. We market it for about a week and get it ready. We start from the beginning, we walk through and we see what needs to be done, if the carpet needs to be changed- because you still need to make it look good to appeal to buyers. We stage the home and then it's on the market for about a week because in this market right now, that's about all it takes. I just had a home that went into contract and it had thirteen offers after a week on the market.
Question: How often are you seeing a baby boomer selling a home, cashing in and moving to another market?
Answer: Well being a baby boomer myself a lot of my clients are attracted to me because we are fellow baby boomers and a lot of them are moving out but they have to move out of the area. Once you sell your home the big question is, 'I can get a lot of money from my home, now what?' There's also quite a few that are staying because their families around here and they know if they sell they're going to have to move out of the area and they don't want to be away from their family. So instead they may spend money and fix up their home and stay here around in Fremont Tri-City area just to be with their kids and their grandkids. The ones that do leave, we see going to Nevada, Texas, Oregon and Washington, that seems to be the the major the major move in states.
Question: So if I'm a baby boomer getting way to sell my home and I invite you in, what are some of this steps of the process that you take me through? What is the greatest value added to prepare to get the right price first?
Answer: First I find out why you're moving because that's always important because we need to know why you're moving and then we walk through and we see what needs to be done in the home. Most of the time carpet and paint make a huge difference, paint inside and out if necessary, but as far as going and doing any kind of remodeling at that point when you're thinking of selling you won't get the return on it that you think you will and it's always good even if it needs to be remodeled or updated- the new buyer may want to come in and they may not like that granite that you chose so it's nice to just leave it for them to make the changes they want but make it look as attractive and it's the feeling, you've got to create a feeling when people walk in that they feel warm and they just fall in love with the house in the first five or six seconds and we work really hard at creating that feeling and then people will make whatever changes they want.
Question: Do you advise staging homes?
Answer: Always, I stage all my listings, I think it makes such a huge difference. People say, well if they see an empty room they can picture things in it. Well if people are like me, when I see an empty room I can't tell you if a queen-size or a king-size bed or a twin bed what's gonna fit in there so if you stage it you really help people see what people what the room can be like when they move in.
Question: When a home gets staged, do people need to move out of the the property?
Answer: Not necessarily, we've done it with people's own their own furniture and things, we may move some things out and move our things in. If it's vacant its of course a lot easier, we can move all of our furniture in and get it exactly like we want, but people can still live there if they want, even if we're staging it.
Question: How does a person contact you?
Answer: They can give me a call at my number, 510.364.2139. I'm also i the book under Masterkey Real Estate Advantage.
Question: Is the greatest value added that you provide your clients your expertise in the tri-city area?
Answer: I'm tri-city/ tri-valley. I within Alameda county. I typically don't go outside Alameda county because things are different in different areas and i want to make sure when i'm working with somebody that I’m giving the best representation I can and that I really know what I'm doing for them.
Question: Are you able to help a person looking for financing and getting banking relationships?
Answer: I can, I do have some contacts at different banks and different mortgage lenders.