SAN FRANCISCO LIVING SPACE by Durwin Cheung

Housing market updates, real estate reports, home improvement trends and the hottest new listings in San Francisco's premier neighborhoods.

Oct. 8, 2019

Don’t Fall Prey to Rental Scams



If you don’t want to fall prey to a rental scam, here are a few things to keep in mind.


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It’s time to raise awareness about an important issue plaguing the rental community here in San Francisco: real estate scams. 

I bring this up because I know someone who had a few classmates recently lose out on $30,000 when they tried renting a home together. During the rental process, they were given faulty wiring instructions by scammers and ended up wiring that sum to a foreign country. After they realized what happened, they tried filing a police report, but there was nothing that could be done, and the money was never recovered.  

$30,000 is a lot of money to lose out on, so if you don’t want the same thing happening to you, there are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for rental properties. 

First, don’t forget to be skeptical of homes that look too good to be true. If a listing looks too good to be true, it probably is. Sometimes, the prices of these listings are much lower than what the market is actually asking for them. 

Also, the “owner” of the property might make excuses not to meet you in person because, obviously, they don’t want to get caught. Instead, they’ll promise to send you the keys if everything about the transaction looks good. They also might send you a contract to lure you in further, or send you a virtual tour of the property online. 

If someone doesn’t want to meet you in person and prefers that you wire them money, that’s the biggest telltale sign that you’re being scammed. The real owner of an actual listing will always meet you in person and show you around their property personally. They’re also much more likely to ask for a deposit check rather than ask you to wire money. 

A good way to verify whether a listing is legitimate is to check the name of the homeowner you’re in contact with via public tax records. If their name doesn’t show up in these records, the listing is a scam. 

If you’d like to know more about how to avoid being scammed or you have any other real estate questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’d be happy to speak with you. 

Sept. 5, 2019

A Peek Around San Francisco




There’s so many great things to see in San Francisco. Here’s a small taste of some downtown living.

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I was out and about recently in the city and wanted to show you some of the wonderful things that San Francisco has to offer. Here’s an outline of my journey in the video above, with timestamps so that you can skip around to the section(s) that interest you the most:

1:15- Van Ness Avenue and some of the updates and transportation coming to the area

3:05- A look at Tommy’s Joynt Sandwiches, a place I’ve been coming to all my life

4:00- A look at one of the buildings I’ve been selling units in

5:10- San Francisco City Hall

6:20- Hayes Valley, one of the hottest new areas in town

9:20- My favorite antique car museum

10:40- My favorite sushi place in the area

11:34- A look at the new CPMC hospital

If you have any questions for me in the meantime, don’t hesitate to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Aug. 5, 2019

Why Are Appraisals so Important?

 

The one important contingency on any buyer’s offer is the appraisal contingency. It says that if the home doesn’t appraise for what you’re paying for it, you can walk away from the contract. 

If the appraisal comes in low and you don’t want to walk away, you'll either have to come up with the difference in cash or rely on the buyer to lower the purchase price. That might not happen, but it is possible to meet in the middle to make up the difference. If an agreement can’t be reached, you’ll have to walk away and you both end up losing.


The added information helps prove the home’s value.



For sellers, a good agent is going to be able to prevent this from happening.
They should have good relationships with appraisers and know whether a home’s appraisal is going to come in low or not. We do homework by looking at the same comparables that the appraiser is looking to justify the value of the home. 

Another thing we do is let the appraisers know how many offers have come in on the home. The added information helps prove the home’s value. I will also contact other agents who have homes listed in the area to further justify the value.

When the appraiser comes out, I always make sure to walk them around the house, point out the highlights of the home, and hopefully get a good appraisal. After it’s done, I’ll recap everything and email the appraiser with all of my information to help them do their job much better.

If you have any questions for me about appraisals or anything else related to real estate, don’t hesitate to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

June 6, 2019

Should You Always Price Your Home Below Market Value?

 

In our last message, we covered the steps sellers should take when pricing their homes. Today we’re back with part two so that we can share even more tips. If you missed our first installment, you can check that out here. Otherwise, let’s dive right in.

 

The methods we shared last time still hold true, but there are a few additional things to keep in mind when choosing your list price. The market is changing, and this means the way sellers approach pricing needs to change, too.

 

Specifically, sellers need to understand that market conditions vary greatly by location. If homes in your area are frequently getting bid up, then you may want to price low to sell high. If recent trends show that buyers are negotiating down, you may actually want to price slightly above your home’s fair market value to ensure that you earn a reasonable sum.

 

If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give us a call or send us an email. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

May 6, 2019

How to Use Competing Listings to Your Advantage When Pricing a Home

 

 

There are several ways to approach pricing your listing, but the methods outlined in today’s message are among the most effective.

 

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Pricing a listing correctly can be tricky. Thankfully, there are a few tips and tricks you can use to make sure you get it right.

Many people insist that reviewing the sales data from properties similar to yours that have recently sold in your area is the best way to develop a pricing strategy. However, while this is a good place to start, it’s important to realize that the market may very well have changed since the time those homes have sold. Even a few months can make a big difference.

Instead, focus your energy into researching active comparable listings (otherwise known as “comps).” If you find a comp that’s a few hundred square feet larger than your property, yet is priced a few thousand dollars below what you’ve listed yours at, this is a red flag. These active comps are your competition in the market. In order to sell quickly and for top dollar, you need to price your listing with these other properties in mind.

And for an even clearer picture of what pricing strategies are effective for homes like yours, why not look into the pending listings in your areas? Your agent should be more than happy to talk to the agents representing these properties about the level of interest they drew before going under contract.

If you have any other questions, would like more information, or are curious about how my team and I can help you price your home competitively in today’s market, feel free to give us a call or send us an email. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

April 8, 2019

The 7 Habits of a Happy Person

How can a happy person be distinguished from someone who’s unhappy? In today’s message, we’ll look at the seven markers, according to Warren Buffett.

 

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To change things up a bit, today we’re going to discuss the seven habits of happy people, as authored by billionaire Warren Buffett.

So what are the hallmarks of a happy person? Here’s a list of seven of them:

  1. Don’t show off. Someone who’s truly happy doesn’t have the slightest urge to show off the fruits of their labor or their accomplishments to others. Think about it: Who enjoys being in the company of a constant showboat?

  2. Talk less. A common characteristic of unhappy people talking too much—especially about themselves. The happy individual is the one who is comfortable listening to others, learning about them, and, in some cases, learning from them. Those that are happy in life are conscientious of who and what they’re talking about. As a sign that they’re comfortable in their own skin, they know their worth.

  3. Learn more. Did you know that Warren Buffett himself reads five hours a day? Of course, this stretches practicality for some of us. But you can still put in some time to learn—whether that be from books or even educational content found on YouTube or other such online tools. With the meteoric forward progress happening in the world, if you’re stagnating, you’re actually regressing.

  4. Help the less fortunate. Warren Buffett practices what he preaches in this way—he plans to donate 90% of his fortune to charity. This may not be feasible for you, but, as an alternative, you can donate your time, which is far and away more precious than money. Material wealth can be replenished, but the same can’t be said for time—once it’s gone, it’s lost forever. Don’t make the excuse that you can’t contribute because you don’t have the money. Volunteer work can be done by anyone and everyone.

  5. Laugh more. Laughing for its own sake might sound strange, but consider this: Data suggests that laughing can actually help you open up more and build relationships with others. One such study found that laughing also helps to diminish cortisol, a stress hormone.  

  6. Ignore nonsense. The first thing that too many people do when they wake up each morning is scroll through their social media feeds and read through empty nonsense, which is nothing but a total disservice to your mind’s space. Happy people are self-aware enough to know that filling their mind with irrelevant, gratuitous information will only hurt them in the long run, and they conserve their mental energy for things that matter.

  7. Avoid ever feeling entitled. An indicator of a wholly unhappy person is the feeling of entitlement. They go through life operating under the assumption that they deserve what they don’t have. In truth, no one deserves anything that they haven’t earned. Those that qualify as happy know that it takes time, hard work, and persistence and are in charge of their lives.

 

I hope you found value in this list. If you know someone who’s thinking about buying or selling a home soon, please send them my way. You’ll receive a $50 Visa card from me, regardless of the outcome of the referral.

And, don’t forget: At the end of the month, we’re holding a raffle, wherein the winner will receive a gift worth $500! That could mean an iPad, an Apple watch, or something else.

As always, for help with any of your own real estate needs, please reach out to me as well. I look forward to hearing from you!

 

Feb. 26, 2019

The 3 Reasons Why You Need a Mentor

Why are mentors such a vital resource for any up-and-coming businessperson? Today we’ll be giving you three reasons.

 

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Many great entrepreneurs—Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Jeff Bezos, for example—have one thing in common. They have had a mentor in their lives. There are three reasons why mentors are such a valuable guide for business people of all levels:

 

1. Mentors motivate and challenge you. Throughout life, there are many points where you may think you’ve reached your peak. A mentor is there to push you through these roadblocks, challenging you to make it to the next level and beyond. Sometimes, hearing the words from someone who’s been there before is all it takes to find that motivation. The road to success is difficult, and it can be even more so when you’re on that journey alone. They will remind you of your goals and help you reach them.

 

"Since they’ve been through and made the mistakes already, you don’t have to make them yourself."

 

2. Mentors can protect you. Hopefully, you can find a mentor who’s 10 to 30 years ahead of you and who has already done everything you hope to accomplish. You can have multiple mentors for life, health, and career goals. With a career mentor, you want them to align with your own vision; for example, find someone who is an established, experienced real estate agent to help you reach your own business goals as a Realtor. Since they’ve been through it and made the mistakes already, you don’t have to make them yourself.

 

3. Mentors can bring new opportunities. People in mentor roles are successful, which means they’re likely busy people. They may have ideas that they don’t have the time to execute, but you’re in a prime position to help bring their ideas into fruition. It won’t necessarily be a paid job, but you’re already earning priceless experience and guidance. However, there will likely be opportunities for partnerships, percentages, and other ways of earning through your joint endeavors. Regardless, you want to be able to give back so that your mentor sees it as not simply a one-sided relationship.

 

If you have any questions about finding a mentor or why else it’s important, feel free to reach out to me. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Feb. 1, 2019

If You Find Yourself in Any of These 5 Situations, Sell Your Home Before Buying

Here are five situations in which selling your current home before purchasing your next one will make for an improved real estate experience all around.

 

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In today’s video, I’ll detail five situations where selling your current home before buying your next one is the right move.

 

1. You don’t want to carry two mortgages. The most painless way to juggle two transactions is buying your new home first, giving yourself time to get situated in it, and then selling your previous home afterward for a great price. Unfortunately, it seldom happens that way. Instead, you wind up with two mortgages, and that’s a heavy financial burden to carry all at once. Selling first will prevent this from occurring. 

 

2. You don’t qualify for two mortgages. Referring back to situation No. 1, let’s say you do want to take on two mortgages. The problem is you may not qualify. A lender won’t account for the fact that you’re looking to sell one of the homes; from their vantage point, you’re simply applying to buy a second home. So they’ll look at your debt-to-income ratio, and lenders stipulate that this has to be less than 36%. That’ll be hard to pull off if you’re juggling two mortgages.

 

3. You’re buying in a competitive market. Buying first means you’ll need to put your best foot forward and make a strong offer. Since the home you’re living in has yet to be sold, your offer will likely need to come with a contingency. That alerts the seller that your offer simply isn’t that strong, which won’t bode well in a competitive market.

 

4. You’re selling in a sluggish market. Maybe your area’s market is somewhat slow or altogether stagnant and homes are hardly selling like hotcakes. If you buy first, you’re almost guaranteed to be stuck with two mortgages for a while, and you won’t truly know what your affordability will be without having the gains from the sale of your own home.

 

5. You’re not ready to commit. Let’s say you’ve owned your home for a number of years now and transitioning into another might only mean being tied down for another three, five, or even ten years. If you’re unsure about that, you might be better off selling first and then renting in the short-term—especially if the market may soon be hitting a bit of a dip and prices are falling.

 

"Selling your home first will prevent you from experiencing the heavy financial burden of carrying two mortgages at once."

 

 

If you or someone you know is thinking about buying or selling a home or you’re curious about your home’s current value, please click on the links provided and subscribe to my channel. I’d love to help with any of your real estate needs however I can! 
Jan. 10, 2019

3 Tips for Slaying Your Credit Score

Today I’ll provide you with three ways you can slay your credit score.

 

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When it comes to getting a handle on your credit score so that you can raise it up, there are three things you need to do:

 

1. Clear up your collection accounts. This step shouldn’t come as a surprise; if you owe money, you need to pay it off. Many people fail to do this and instead consolidate their debts and move their balance from one card to another. This seems like a smart thing to do, and you might be lowering your monthly payments and your interest rates, but your credit score actually takes a big hit. You’re not paying off your balances by consolidating them—you’re just moving them around.

 

"Make sure you know how to use your card and pay it off responsibly."

 

2. Set up autopayments. Believe it or not, but 35% of your credit score is based on making timely payments. If you don’t pay, that will create a big dent in your credit score. A lot of times, this happens not because people can’t afford to pay their bills, but because they’re just so busy with their daily lives that they don’t remember to put the payments in the bank to pay off creditors. The autopayment option is extremely easy to do, and essentially all creditors make this option available these days. If you set this up, you can gradually increase your credit score each month.

 

3. Watch your credit limit. The experts say that you shouldn’t exceed 30% of your credit limit. For example, if your card limit is $10,000, you don’t want to have a balance that is more than $3,000. Here’s the tricky part, though: You also don’t want your balance to be less than 10% ($1,000 in this example) because credit agencies want to see that you have credit management skills. Make sure you know how to use your card and pay it off responsibly.

 

If you have any questions or want to buy or sell real estate, please feel free to reach out to me. I hope to hear from you soon!
Nov. 20, 2018

How to Be Great at What You Do

The secret to being great at what you do is staying focused on your most important tasks. Here’s what I mean.

 

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Today I’ve got some tips to help you become great at what you do. Whatever your job or your business is, there are a ton of things you need to do throughout the day. Whether it’s handling legal matters, making calls, training, hiring, marketing, or whatever else, it’s impossible to focus on them all at once.

 

If you want to be great at what you do, you have to be able to pick out the one thing that matters the most and will get you to your goal. If you have this one thing done, even if you don’t finish everything else, you'll feel accomplished.

 

A lot of the stuff we do on a daily basis isn’t all that important. Returning phone calls or emails or checking social media doesn’t really do anything in the grand scheme of things. By the time you’re done with all that stuff, you don’t have much time left. Then you’ll probably push your most important stuff to the next day. Focus on what’s important first and get it done right away in the morning. After that, everything’s gravy. 

"My No. 1 focus is on my clients."

 

If you’re a stockbroker, you should probably be focusing on the day’s stocks. If you’re a sales rep, you should be calling your potential leads and prospects. As a real estate agent, my focus is my clients. I reach out to them first thing in the morning. I don’t focus on making copies or scanning papers or anything else. While those things are necessary, my first focus each day is to contact my clients because they are the lifeblood of my business.
If you’re in the market for a real estate agent, you want to hire someone who can focus their time on you. 

 

So, what is the one thing that you can do to make the biggest impact on your career? Once you find it, you want to shift your focus to that task so that you’re weeding out the things that don’t get you to your goal.

 

If you have any questions for me in the meantime about how to become great at what you do, don’t hesitate to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.