Value Add of the Agent: A Chat with Pacific Union's Beverly Barnett-Escamilla
“The Brain” recently caught up with Pacific Union Agent Beverly Barnett-Escamilla. A persistent, quality focused, and personable agent, Beverly had much to say about the San Francisco residential real estate market and what buyers and sellers should value. Thanks to Beverly for chatting with us!
What are the key factors a home buyer/seller should consider when choosing an agent?
Is the agent a good listener? Are they hearing and understanding your goals? Will they be good at helping you work through a problem if one arises? Communication - how well does the agent communicate with you? Are you working with someone you enjoy talking with? Plan on hearing from your agent often when buying, or selling a property. Motivation and Drive - how hard is the agent going to work for you. Experience – Are you confident the agent has the experience and resources necessary to accomplish your real estate goals? Negotiation – are they skilled in negotiating and strategizing?
San Francisco home buyers/sellers have a plethora of choices when it comes to choosing a realtor. There are big firms, small firms, independent agents, and everything in between. What differentiates one from another?
One of the biggest differences between small and large firms are the services offered - larger firms generally have more resources behind them so they can usually offer their clients more diverse services. For example, my company, Pacific Union is affiliated with Christies Great Estates, which is marketing that no other company can offer their clients. Large companies can also offer national and international referrals, relocation services, plus many resources a client may need from great contractors to architects, attorneys, etc. Larger companies can generally offer a broader range of marketing materials and often times have a better web presence, which is the #1 way real estate is marketed today. Plus, since large companies have more agents, the likelihood increases that they will have more pocket listings, properties sold without ever hitting the public market. Large firms can also cater to a much broader clientele. As for small firms and independent agents, they often specialize in a certain area, or kind of property.
What is the single best piece of advice you have for first time home buyers?
Be prepared! Work with a realtor and mortgage broker so you’ll be educated and able to act when necessary. When they find a property they like that they can afford, BUY IT! It may be a long time before they find another one and it will most likely cost more. They will have buyers’ remorse as soon as they hear their offer has been accepted. It's natural to be nervous about the purchase, as it's most likely one of the largest purchases they'll make in a lifetime.
What are the biggest mistakes you see buyers make?
Waiting to get into the market. Waiting usually costs them more money in the long run, or prohibits them from getting into the market at all. Also, working without a realtor. A realtor’s knowledge of an area, price/sf, plus, how other agents negotiate, etc, is so valuable when buying, or selling a home. Doing it alone usually costs the buyer/seller more money in the long run and can waste valuable time.
What are the biggest mistakes you see sellers make?
Overpricing, which causes a home to become stale and by the time it's reduced to a more realistic price, it generally sells for less than if they'd started at a lower price from the beginning. Not Staging - many, many properties do not show well without staging. Staging really allows the home to show at its best helping to achieve the highest sales price.
Buying/selling a home is one of the most stressful decisions a person can make. Share with us what you do as an agent to help your clients through this process?
Arrange consultation to discuss the various steps involved in the buying/selling process and educate them on the current market. Help determine realistic expectations, plus devise an action plan and timeline. Assist them in contacting and implementing the resources necessary to accomplish their goals (stager, mortgage broker, contractors, painter, etc). Guide them through each step answering questions and offering valuable expertise.
What do you do to help your clients get the best price for the property they are selling/buying?
In San Francisco, the real estate market is constantly changing. Really having a feel for what’s going on in the market and being up to date on market conditions allows me to successfully strategize and negotiate the best price for my clients.
Any general advice to offer regarding financing?
When considering financing, think of how long you're planning to own the property, and then tailor the loan to suit that. Also, make sure the mortgage broker you're using is working hard for you, calls you back promptly and has the ability to describe the various loan products to you so you understand them. Financing can be very confusing. I have found the best mortgage broker in San Francisco!
San Francisco is notable for its unique neighborhoods. Is there a specific neighborhood in which you know particularly well or specialize?
I think it's important to try to know as much about the different neighborhoods of San Francisco as possible. Knowing the value of property in different neighborhoods, the different climates of the city, where to find the “latte factor” etc, helps guide clients in the right direction when reviewing their wish list. There are so many wonderful neighborhoods and each one offers something different. Unless you're familiar with all the neighborhoods, your client may miss out on a wonderful opportunity. Plus, it's really important when marketing a property to also know how to market the area.
What's your opinion on the San Francisco real estate market for 2007? Buyer's or seller's market?
I think 2007 is going to be a pretty even market for both buyers and sellers. Sellers who price their property correctly will be able to sell and do well in the market, and I believe that buyers will be able to get into wonderful properties without the craziness of the last few years.
When are the best/worst times to buy/sell in San Francisco?
For Sellers, the best time is usually in the Spring, (Feb, through May) with the Fall (Sept/Oct) being a close second. Worst times tend to be July/August as people tend vacation during those months and November/December, due to the holiday season.
For buyers it all depends on what they're looking for. If they're trying to get a "deal", then July/August and November/December tend to be the best times to buy, however the inventory can be quite slim. For buyers that are looking for the "perfect" house in the "perfect" neighborhood, then the Spring and Fall will be better for them as that's the best time for sellers to list a home for sale.
Why should someone choose to use a real estate agent over doing it themselves (i.e "For Sale by Owner")?
Profit! People who tend to sell their own homes typically do not know how to prepare the property to get the best price. They don't know how to market it correctly, or even where to market it. Plus they don't have the most important asset - a way to market it to other realtors who tend to bring the buyers who are immediately ready to buy. I've seen sellers lose as much as 30% on the sale of a home they sold themselves, plus go through all the stress of not knowing exactly what they're doing.
TIC ownership is increasingly more common. What are the mistakes to avoid for people considering TIC?
My best advice for people who are considering TIC ownership is to make sure they are educated on TIC’s and really understand all the pros and cons of TIC ownership. That can be accomplished by going to TIC seminar, or by meeting with a TIC attorney who is very experienced with TIC ownership. It’s important to understand that it can be easy to buy into a TIC, but more difficult when it’s time to sell.
Your thoughts on owning real estate as rental property?
Owning real estate as rental property is a wonderful investment and I'm a huge advocate of it. One thing to consider - are you ready to be a landlord, or pay a management co. to manage it? I know people who started buying rental property over 20 years ago and today have acquired 25+ properties in San Francisco. Just think of the financial prospects of owning that much real estate in San Francisco. You could sell just one property and put a child through college.
Fill in the blank: The best part of being a San Francisco real estate
agent is.............. the thrill of meeting new people and putting them together with exciting properties whether it be a new home, or an investment property. You never know what tomorrow will bring. I can't imagine doing anything else!
To contact Beverly Barnett - Escamilla:
415-345-3137, Cell: 415-302-9052