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Pick a buyer’s agent you trust and stick with them.  When I earned my license in 2002 I set out to prove that a great agent doesn’t cost you money.  They SAVE you $.   They also save time and scary stories by helping you dodge pitfalls for years to come.  In California, most agents are compensated by home sellers, not buyers. That’s right, your representation is generally fully paid by the seller.  That commitment happens when the owner lists the house for sale, so you likely aren’t saving any money by showing up without representation.  There aren’t many places you get a price break in Ca, but this is a little known (Fun!) fact.  Why not take advantage of your real estate tour guide?  They speak the language, know the nuances even Google doesn’t know, and it doesn’t even cost you a thing!  

**New construction representation works differently.  Ask and we’ll fill you in.

Dual Representation is frowned upon in multiple offer presentations in the North Bay market.   We aren’t lawyers and we don’t practice law, but for comparison…would the defendant ever hire the plaintiff’s attorney to represent them??  In a competitive market, homebuyers are looking for any leg up.  Some approach us asking if we would represent them on a purchase of our own listings.  While we would LOVE to help you with a successful purchase and want nothing more than to see you prevail, it’s not in your best interest.   If we represent the seller, we’re happy to align you with an agent who is unusually knowledgeable about the property and neighborhood, and more qualified to represent your best interests in the particular transaction.  

Stand out.  With fewer homes to meet the high level of demand, does it make sense that every qualified buyer’s agent has several clients stacked up for popular price ranges?  Aim to be the 1st one they call. The 1st who declares they want to submit an offer.  This ensures you’ll be the first call if they hear of an off market opportunity that you’d be interested in.  It’s ok if it takes a while to find the right home or narrow down your wish list.  This is a critical step and we’re happy to be patient.  The market, on the other hand, is not.  Putting your best foot forward on the right home helps us best represent you.  If it’s not the right home, you won’t offend us with productive feedback.  We’ll be happiest when you secure the right one!

Where to start?  We’ll get you up to speed quickly so you can navigate the process at your own pace, with our resources every step along the way.   Homebuying is personal.  We’d love to help!

If only! If you want to be successful in 2022, you can’t shop using last year’s shopping list.  The market has only tightened further with fewer properties available + more eager buyers. 


Get a reality check on your criteria and price range.  Consider supplementing your down payment with additional sources (+ lender’s blessing).  Review CLOSED prices for homes that sold.  Ask your agent to find out the offer terms of those sales.  You don’t get a reality check by looking at list prices for other homes on the market. They may be underpriced or overpriced.  Recent closed sales prices are the strongest indicator.  If you base your decision off list prices instead of closed prices, it’s like assuming everyone who enters Harvard will graduate Harvard, with the same GPA.

Do: Specify a communication strategy with your agent.  Call, text or email?  When they reach you through that method, be responsive every time they contact you.  Time is of the essence in this fast paced market.  

Do: Tour every property in your price range. If it’s not worth your time to tour the properties, don’t expect your agent to read all 300 pages of the disclosures in order to answer detailed questions on the ones you wish to pursue.  Learn what repairs are typical for the price and which stand out and should be factored into the price.  The best way to find the right property is to know which are NOT the right fit for you.  If you hesitate on the right one, you may pay more for a property that isn’t as good of a fit several months later. 

Do: Prioritize the home search.  It can feel like a part time job.  “On call” 7 days a week.  If you don’t put your home search on the front burner, your lender, inspectors, and agent may not either.  

Do educate yourself on how Homeowners associations operate, if your budget includes planned unit developments (PUD’s, condos, townhomes).  Ask your agent about realistic repair costs.  Look for “informational” vs “urgent” items in the inspection reports.  Buyers who don’t want to buy in a community with annual fee increases or special assessments typically are naive as to how maintenance is funded in common interest developments. 3% to 6% annual increase in homeowners association dues has been typical in recent years.  Sharing costs amongst many units can often mean bulk savings for capital improvements, ie roofs, siding, painting, and landscaping.  We’re in a skilled labor shortage, complicated by supply chain delays.  HOAs face that as well as homeowners, and may be in a better position to address hurdles than you as an individual.  Before you give up on an HOA, look at repair costs for nearby houses in a similar price point and ask yourself if you want to be on the hook for the whole cost vs a share in the cost.  Seriously think about whether you’ll have time to drop everything to interview and meet service providers when maintenance is due.  Is it more feasible to take a turn on the board than “be your own board” at all times?  If rules and community decision making is too much to stomach, be prepared to pony up for the houses that fall into your price range.  Understand the tradeoffs.

DO: Get preapproved with a reputable, local mortgage broker or lender. Please!  When you submit an offer, the listing agent will likely call lenders of top offers with additional questions.  If your lender is in a different time zone or doesn’t pick up it may cost you the property.  In fast paced markets like California “I’m out of the office” does not create confidence with the listing agent. Also, out of area and internet based lenders often use language and practices common in their market.  If I ran a mile every time an out of state lender assumed “closing” and ”signing documents” were the same thing in California, I’d be an ultramarathoner.  Your finances are too critical to trust an app, or a lender with an 888 or 800 number.  Think about it…there’s a reason the teaser interest rates look too good to be true.  

Do: make sure your letter says preapproval, not prequalification.  NOT the same thing.  Preapproval means the lender has already done a thorough examination of your financial qualifications.  It also means you have done your part in providing documents to the lender & allowed a credit check, so you’re further along in the process.  Online lenders use a narrow list of questions for their initial diagnosis that often miss critical information, ESPECIALLY if you are self employed.  This can mean the difference between a stressful cancellation (months wasted), and keys to your new house.  
Do: Be clear about your intentions.  If you find the right property but you’re not ready to make an offer with the price/terms needed to secure the property, revisit your criteria and price range.  Buyer’s who were “not in a rush” the last ten years generally paid more for the home later.  Even worse, they often settled for a less desirable home.  If you’re optimizing for budget, make sure to consider the long term.  The bay area is severely underbuilt, and “no growth” is the philosophy.  Your choices are based on what already exists.  Space and locations don’t change much over time.  But the prices do.  Attain agents are skilled at seeing potential in any property, and providing resources to help you make the right space into the right home.  We’ve had to face the market conditions ourselves, and improve our properties over time.  But we think Marin is sooooooo worth it!

Novato is the hidden gem of northern Marin County.   You may have driven through it on your way to the Point Reyes seashore or the farms of west Marin.  Wedged between Sonoma County and San Francisco, Novato is bustling with things to do and places to visit. 

Here’s just a few:

Take a stroll around Old Town Novato

Grant Avenue is the heart of downtown, which combines history with modern conveniences.  Tree lined streets create ambiance for outdoor dining.   You can shop for jewelry or curated fashions (new or upcycled) at eclectic boutiques.  Enjoy a beer at Bike Brustop while your ride is getting repaired, or grab a baked goodie at Flour Chylde.  (You’ll never know it’s gluten free).  Kids and kids at heart love Celines,’ a retro sweet shop.  There truly is something for everyone downtown. 

Climb to new heights at Indian Valley open space reserve

Indian Valley’s Colleges new swimming and diving complex hosts top notch events.  A unique location for higher level education, the college happens to be surrounded by a trail system utilized by equestrians, hikers, & dog walkers.  Choose from a shady and gentle fire road, the popular waterfall loop, or steep single track with peek a boo views.

Birdwatch, bike, golf, and so much more at Stafford Lake Park

Aside from a serene lake teeming with wildlife, the newly added bike park, a frisbee golf course, and picnic areas make this a destination.  If you’re lucky, you might catch a concert, performance, or outdoor festival being held here, depending on the time of year.  

Giddy up at Morning Star Farm

Located between Novato Creek and the scenic riding trails of O’Hair Park, Morning Star Farm offers horseback riding sessions to families, groups, and whoever wants to saddle up!

San Anselmo is at the intersection of small town charm, historic roots & tech meets natural beauty.  Always prioritizing local business, with a friendly and low key vibe, San Anselmo, California, is an outdoor destination for hikers, cyclists, artists, and healthy living.  The area offers beautiful Mediterranean weather, long summers, and short winters.  Trails are always within reach.  It’s possible to enjoy a car free lifestyle in this bicycle mecca.

The town offers neighborhoods with charming names such as Sleepy Hollow, Seminary, Calumet Park, and Morningside.  Homes span a mix starting with late 1800’s era craftsman and mediterranean bungalows, to private hillside properties, sleek modern view residences, and also  suburban farms.  It’s this eclectic blend that sets the tone for a vibrant downtown that hosts several annual events.  From well-curated thrift shops to cafes, breweries, and restaurants, San Anselmo is home to artists, programmers, entrepreneurs, and bankers. 

Families are drawn to San Anselmo for top rated schools, but cultural and physical activities for all ages are abundant in this extremely active community.  From Millennium Park where families gather to picnic, play baseball, soccer and basketball to Juan’s Gym, that trains children, beginner to advanced, in all aspects of tumbling and gymnastics. 

A Day in the life…

Whether your day starts at a youth soccer game or meeting friends for a cycle (or artisan tea?), there’s a strong sense of community ready to welcome you.  Miles of open space trails and marked bike routes mean you can clear your head on your own schedule, while still tapping into the culture of top notch restaurants, a wine bar, and live music after sunset.  San Anselmo is a destination few are lucky to call home, but many wish to visit.

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