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Q&A BLOG - Marsha Gray

Pests

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Question-I’ve just made an offer on a home. I’ve bought homes before in Santa Barbara and a pest report was always provided by the seller, but it seems that’s not the case anymore. Should I ask for a pest report? What pests are they looking for and what can be … Read More

Are We in a Housing Bubble?

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Question-Marsha, I’ve made several offers on houses in Santa Barbara in the last year. Each time it was multiple offers and I didn’t get into contract. Are we in or approaching another housing bubble in Santa Barbara? Answer-I’m glad your question was about Santa Barbara and not the national housing … Read More

Your Journey Home

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Question- My wife and I are ready to make our first home purchase. We’ve chosen an agent, have loan pre-approval and are ready to go. What can we expect from the home purchase process? Answer- Great question. There are ten simple steps to purchasing your home: 1-Receive lender pre-approval and … Read More

Delusional Sellers

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Question: Marsha, I’ve found my dream house! Unfortunately, it is currently overpriced by at least $100,000. My agent gave me the current comparable sales for the neighborhood and similar houses. I made a generous offer using her research. The counter-offer I received is ridiculous. Help! How can I make this … Read More

For Sale by Owner

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Question: Marsha, my husband and I are in a situation where we want to sell our condominium for as much money as possible. We’d like to save the real estate commission and sell the home ourselves. Is there really any reason why we couldn’t do this? Answer: So you would … Read More

The Digital Real Estate Agent

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Question: With the emergence of the internet and search technology, is a real estate agent really necessary in today’s world of buying and selling homes? What do you think?  Are agents going the way of the dinosaurs? Answer: Ouch! That hits close to home. However it is a great question … Read More

Size Matters

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Question: Marsha, my wife and I disagree about how big our next house needs to be. I think a three bedroom, two bath, 1,600 square foot house would be perfect.  She wants less of a carbon footprint and loves the “tiny house” movement. What is the ideal house size for … Read More

What Does That Really Mean?

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Question: Marsha, I just started my home search. I read ads for homes and I get excited about seeing the house in person. Often, I’m disappointed. The ads descriptions and the actual house are often worlds apart. For instance, what does “as is” mean? I’ve seen several houses where “as … Read More

Your Journey Home

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Question: My wife and I are ready to make our first home purchase. We’ve chosen an agent, have loan pre-approval and are ready to go. What can we expect from the home purchase process? Answer: Great question. There are ten simple steps to purchasing your home: 1-Receive lender pre-approval and … Read More

Selling a Tenant Occupied Home

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Question: Marsha, I own a three bedroom two bath house in Santa Barbara. I’ve managed the home myself as a rental for many years. My current tenants are three graduate students who’ve lived there for 18 months. I want to put the home on the market. Anything special I should … Read More

Do I Need a Pre-Approval From a Lender?

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Question: Marsha my real estate agent insists I speak with a lender and get “pre-approved” before he’ll show me any homes. I have the down payment and I’m ready to buy. Why bother with a lender until after I find the house I want to purchase? Answer: Congratulations on choosing … Read More

If it Smells it Won’t Sell

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Question: Marsha, We’re getting ready to sell our home.  We’ve been working with our realtor and following her directions. We’ve put a lot of time, energy and money into the preparation. Now she tells us that our pets are causing the home to smell and we need to deal with … Read More

Distressed Properties and What Are They?

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Question: Marsha, I know the Santa Barbara housing market has rebounded in the last few years and the future is rosier than it was in 2009. Knowing this, I was shocked to learn my neighbors’ home in Goleta is being foreclosed on. What exactly does that mean and why would … Read More

Listen to the Market; Listen to your Realtor

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Question: Marsha, I’m ready to put my home on the market. I had my realtor do a market analysis of the recent comparable sales in my neighborhood. She put the value of my home between $750,000 and $800,000, and she wants to list it for $725,000. I want to put … Read More

What’s Your Title?

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Question: Marsha, my fiancée and I are buying a condo together. What do you think is the best way to take title to our new home? Answer: The manner in which one takes title to a property is a vital decision. Escrow officers, who know lots more about these matters … Read More

Sweat Equity

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Question: Marsha, my wife and I want to purchase a home in a particular school district. The homes are pricey and pushing our price range. There are some fixer-uppers that come available from time to time. What’s your view on buying a fixer? Answer: In real estate there are three … Read More

1031 Exchanges

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Question: Marsha, I own a single family residence that has been a rental for many years. I purchased the house for $100,000 and I think I can sell for about $650,000. I’ve heard about “1031 exchanges” for income property. Can that help me avoid paying taxes? How does it work? … Read More

Is Staging a Home Worth the Money?

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Question: Marsha, I am ready to put my home on the market. My real estate agent is urging me to hire a professional stager. She says the home will sell faster and for a higher price, but it’s expensive and I’d rather not spend the money. Is it worth it? … Read More

Real Estate 101

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Question: Marsha, I am seriously considering getting a real estate license.  Can you give me an idea of what I’m getting into? Answer: Congratulations! You have chosen an interesting, fun and vital career. Real estate moves our economy on many levels. A good metaphor for real estate is a theater … Read More

Sow Your Garden and Reap Rewards

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Question: Marsha, I’m putting my home on the market in a few months. It’s a beautiful and well maintained home. My realtor insists I spruce up my landscaping to receive maximum value. Is this a necessary expense? Answer: To answer your question, consider this scenario. A couple is researching real … Read More

Real Open Houses in a Virtual World

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Question: Marsha, my home is on the market. My realtor wants to have at least two open houses a month. We make the home immaculate and leave for three hours on a Sunday. I’ve heard mixed opinions as to whether open houses actually work with today’s internet buyers. Thoughts? Answer: … Read More

Seller: Five Steps to Sold!

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Question: Marsha, I am putting my home on the market and I want to sell quickly. I noticed some houses sell in nothing flat while others languish on the market. What can I do to sell in short order, yet receive a good value for my home? Answer: I thought … Read More

What is a Signature in Today’s World?

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Question: Marsha, I’m currently in a contract to purchase a home in Santa Barbara. The good news is all the paperwork is being signed electronically. The bad news is there is so much of it! Just when I think I’ve signed everything I possibly could, my agent emails me another … Read More

“Under All is the Land”

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Question: Marsha, I can’t decide whether it makes more sense to invest in the stock market or purchase my first home. What are your thoughts on real estate as an investment? Answer: First off, I’m a realtor and not an investment advisor, so for professional monetary advice talk with your … Read More

Is It Really A Lowball Offer?

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Question: Marsha, my home has been on the market for over a month. I live in a good area and my house shows great. There’s been a lot of interest but no offers until yesterday. It’s a lowball offer and I don’t want to acknowledge it. My realtor says it’s … Read More

Email Hackers and Real Estate Scams

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Question: Marsha, I’ve been hearing more and more about email hackers and real estate scams. Is the problem getting worse? How do the scams work? Answer: Real estate fraud is an old problem. It’s been with us as long as we’ve had land, con artists, and trusting people. (Look up … Read More

Disclose, Disclose, Disclose!

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Question: Marsha, I’m ready to put my home on the market. I am selling the house strictly “as is”.  My agent insists I fill out a long list of disclosures. Is this really necessary? Answer: Yes, yes and absolutely yes! Disclosures in real estate are such an important subject it … Read More

Sell During or After the Holidays?

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    Question: Marsha, My wife and I are ready to sell our home.   She wants to wait until after the first of the year and I want to sell right now.  Do people buy and sell during the holidays? Answer: Yes! It may surprise you to learn that homes … Read More

Real Estate Commissions

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Question: Marsha, I want to put my house on the market. I’ve been interviewing different real estate agents. I can’t believe what they charge to help sell a house! What exactly do they do to earn their commission? Answer: The agents you’ve interviewed have not explained their value to you. … Read More

Zombie Loans

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Question: Marsha, what is a Deed of Reconveyance and is it something I should be concerned about with my home? Answer: Oh yes, it is something you should be concerned about. When you borrowed the money secured by your property a Deed of Trust was created and recorded with the … Read More

Rent or Purchase?

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Question: Marsha, my fiancée and I are discussing housing options in Santa Barbara. We are in our early 30’s and have well-paying jobs. We’re trying to decide whether to rent or purchase a home. Homes seem so expensive. What are your thoughts? Should we rent or buy? Answer: As a … Read More

What is a Condo?

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Question: Marsha, I am ready to purchase my first home. In researching values, I realize all I can afford in Santa Barbara is a condominium. How is a condo different than a single family home? What exactly will I be purchasing? Answer: Making your first purchase a condo is a … Read More

How Much Will I Make?

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Question: Marsha, I am ready to put my house on the market and I want to know what my proceeds will be from the sale. How do I figure this out? Answer: The easiest way to estimate the proceeds of your sale is to ask your real estate agent to … Read More

Walkability-What is it?

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Question: Marsha, I keep seeing the term “walkability” on home listings. Can you explain what this means and why it’s important? Answer: Walkability is somewhat of a misnomer. It really refers to all forms of mobility, including walking, jogging, biking, wheelchairs, and public transportation. It’s the idea of transportation freedom … Read More

Scams and Shams

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Question: Marsha, my elderly mother has owned her home in Santa Barbara for decades.  Ten years ago she took out an equity loan for needed repairs on the house. She’s current with her payments and isn’t struggling. Recently she’s been receiving phone calls from a gentleman who claims there is … Read More

Fixer versus Move-in Ready?

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Question: Marsha, my wife and I want to purchase a home in a particular school district. The homes are pricey and pushing our price range. There are some fixer-uppers that come available from time to time. What’s your view on buying a fixer? Answer: In real estate there are three … Read More

Tears or Cheers?

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Question: Marsha, last week you wrote about multiple offers, and you described how sometimes buyers get caught up in “auction fever” only to regret it later. Well, I recognized myself in that description. I’m in contract on a house I saw online and immediately loved. This is my first home … Read More

Multiple Offers

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Question: I have been looking at a particular home for several months. I finally put in an offer and learned that two other buyers made offers at the same time! Now I’m in a multiple offer situation. What can I expect? Answer: Before I answer that, I have a question. … Read More

Sell First, Buy Later?

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Question: Marsha, my family has outgrown our current home and we are ready to upsize to another home. Is it better to sell first and then purchase, or vice versa? Or is there any way to do both at once? Answer: I wish there were an easy answer to your … Read More

Are Home Inspections Necessary?

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Question: Marsha, I just went into escrow on a 1972 three bedroom two bath home in Goleta. It’s a beautiful remodel. The roof is new and the electrical and plumbing have recently been upgraded. I’d like to save the home inspection cost for other house expenses. My realtor is insisting … Read More