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Discount Real Estate Brokers Serving the Entire San Francisco Bay Area

By Baron Chestney | Broker in San Francisco, CA
  • Baron Chestney's Blah Blah Blog #33 -- It's Time to Play the Game!

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Colma, Home Buying in Colma, Home Selling in Colma  |  June 7, 2014 12:18 AM  |  270 views  |  No comments

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    Baron Chestney's Blah Blah Blog #33 -- San Francisco Bay Area Real Estate Agents Want You to Know: It's Time to Play the Game!

    Milton Bradley, Parker Brothers, Fisher Price, Mattel, Kenner, Hasbro, Ideal, Remco -- these are the names of famous game makers, right? Well, yes, but they might as well also be some of the newest names of real estate companies and and/or real estate agents in the San Francisco bay area real estate market -- a market where playing GAMES is now all the rage in the real estate market, and buying and selling properties has become just an occasional side effect. There are those agents who are driven by greed, there are those agents who are driven by fame, and there are those agents who are driven by power -- and there are also agents who are driven by all of them, or any combination thereof.  The current state of the bay area real estate market allows these real estate agents to satisfy their needs for greed, fame, and power by listing a property for sale and then using it as a game playing platform. In fact, we have noticed that many real estate agents have become so wrapped up in their need to satisfy their needs for greed, fame, and power -- all fulfilled by playing games with their listings -- that they have almost lost sight of the main purpose of practicing real estate, which, the last time we checked, is to facilitate the buying and selling of San Francisco bay area real estate -- or is it?  A large number of real estate agents seem to have strayed far off track, and are now more obsessed with the act of playing games than they are with the act of facilitating the buying and selling of real estate!  Indeed, after many years of a dismal bay area real estate market, these agents seem to have lost their sanity -- they really do seem to be enjoying this peurile game playing just a little bit too much. it's almost as if they are entering the second childhood phase of their lives... This behavior is truly bizarre.  Greed? Of course. Fame? Sure! Power? Absolutely!  These character traits are quite common amongst real estate agents.  But GAMES?! Games -- really -- games?! Come on! Surely, real estate agents could be engaging in something far more sinister, evil, and, yes, of course, dare we say it -- illegal -- than the simple childish act of playing games! What a waste of resources!  Why waste one's time playing games when one could instead be lying, cheating, scamming, embezzling, hoodwinking, conning, stealing -- ah, well, you get the picture --  but GAMES, of all things?! WHY?!  Well, it seems that the very act of playing games does, in fact, meets the basic, childish needs for greed, fame, and power quite well.  Think about how many games are based on money and the accumulation of wealth....there are dozens of them!  Fame? Sure!  There are plenty of games in which the players compete for fame. Power? Most certainly! Games of conquest and domination are all over the place.  So, perhaps this crazy little obsession for game playing runs far, far deeper into the twisted and corrupt psyches of the real estate agents' minds than we ever could have imagined in our wildest childhood nightmares...perhaps it is rooted way, way back into their tormented childhoods, in fact... Yes, folks, we know it's hard to believe, but it really is true. San Francisco bay area eal estate agents are currently living out and fulfilling their evil fantasies and trying to resolve their latent childhood psychoses by playing GAMES with you! When they first take a listing, the game begins... The odds are of course wickedly stacked in their favor - but so what?! Remember the kids who used to routinely lie, cheat, and steal? Well, those are the same ones who grew up to become real estate agents!  So, they are simply carrying out the same behavior in adulthood -- only this time, they're using real money (and houses) instead of Monopoly money and houses, and they're ruining real people's lives instead of just messing with your little automobile game token in the game of Life.... and this time around, they really ARE trying to annex your country and/or sink your battleship -- these people are crazy, and although they have lost their marbles, they are indeed playing for all of them...  So LOOK OUT, people -- games are indeed afoot -- serious games -- and they are being played at YOUR expense.... Greed? Purposely lowball pricing the listings way, way under market value such as to create a bidding war frenzy.  Fame? Trying to set the record sales price, quickest sale (shortest time on market), greatest number of offers, record amount over asking price, etc... Power? Non-mls listings, pocket listings, manipulating offer date and time, lying and playing games with regards to number of offers, amount and terms of offers, etc... and, last but certainly not least -- listing agents lying, cheating, and stealing their way to double-ending the listing, such that all potential buyers will work through them...It's almost as if the chase is better than the catch... it's overkill... the pleasure is the play... the listing agent is holding all the aces.....It's time to play the game!

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  • Baron Chestney's Blah Blah Blog #32 -- This Could Only Happen in A Comedy Movie, or a Really Bad Novel, Right?!? WRONG!!!

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Colma, Home Selling in Colma, Property Q&A in Colma  |  June 7, 2014 12:12 AM  |  267 views  |  No comments

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     Baron Chestney's Blah Blah Blog #32 -- This Could Only Happen in a Comedy Movie, or a Really Bad Novel -- Right?!? WRONG!!! Something Wicked This Way Comes : It's Real Estate Tales from The Dark Side!!!

    Vault of Evil....Tomb of Darkness....Mysteries of the Macabre....Tales From the Crypt ....Haunt of Horror... remember those old scary comic books from your (or your parents'?) childhood?  Most of them dealt with scary stuff -- ghosts, ghouls, and goblins, or spooks, spirits, and the supernatural...creepy subject matter indeed.  While those old comic books dealt with the realm of fantasy, any good horror writer will admit that, quite often, the scariest things in life are actually every day things.  Something that is usually quite routine and ordinary all of a sudden takes a turn for the surreal, and the situation changes from one that is commonplace to one that is crazy... For example, take real estate -- PLEASE!  We have been wanting to write a book about this kind of stuff for ages now, because we feel that the everyday events that occur in the ordinary practice of real estate are just so ridiculous that they are a potentially rich source of humor -- after all, crying about it won't do us any good, so why not at least laugh at it -- but we do realize that no one would care, most likely, unless they were, like us, intricately involved in the real estate industry. Honestly, it could make for a really, really genuinely funny novel -- or, perahps even better yet (since no one reads anymore) -- a screenplay for a movie. There have been plenty of movies with side plots and jokes and references about crooked real estate people in a few movies, but to our knowledge, there's never been a movie that is specifically all about real estate agents... The subject matter is perfectly suited by its very nature for a hilarious book or film, though! After all, there have been numerous comedy movies and TV sitcoms about attorneys and politicians.  Well, why not one about real estate agents, whose lies, cheats, and scams can at the very least equal, and in fact usually FAR exceed, those of attorneys and politicians?!  Just think of the potential actors and actresses who could probably deliver an aceademy award winning performance in the roles of evil real estate agents ... the names John Malkovitch, James Spader, Kevin Spacey, Gary Oldman, Glen Close, Rebecca De Mornay, Judy Dench, Sharon Stone, and others quickly come to mind as excellent choices to be cast in the roles of slimy, skanky real estate weasels extraordinaire.  The basic plot would involve each of them trying to out-lie and out-scam and out-cheat each other in different creative ways, while at the same time ripping off their clients even 10 times worse... They could even hold a contest to determine who is the biggest weasel of them all, etc...the possibilities for humor are endless. Of course, selling the idea to the movie biz folks or a publishing company would probably be very difficult.... Then, one would not be able to afford to hire those big name movie stars... It could be done as an independent film, perhaps, using unknown wannabe actors and actresses who respond to a general casting call for devious, slimy weasels.... Perhaps funniest of all, it could be done like a "Spinal Tap" mocumentary, only instead using actual interviews and clips of real world agents and brokers just doing their every day thing and going about their business in the usual manner... we know we have a strong bias, but funny is funny, no matter what -- getting people to buy a comedy novel about real estate go see a comedy movie about real estate would be the hard part, though.... Making them laugh would be easy!  It's a real shame because there really is so much about the real estate business that is naturally hilarious -- from the ridiculously outdated training manuals to the stripped down Mercedes c230's to the Hillary Clinton power pantsuits that every rookie wannabe real estate clone runs out and charges after making her first (and only) sale, which was of course a relative's house.. indeed, she probably kicked her own Granny out and threw her into a nursing home in order to put the family house up for sale on the market in the first place... Ah, yes, just think of it -- the lying, the cheating, the stealing -- all right there, for all to see (in 3D perhaps?) on the big screen... an inside look into the filthy, squalid, underhanded double dealings of the wretched real estate underworld.... The potential choices for musical score abound, as well! The film could open to the dulcet tones of AC/DC's "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap", for example, and then begin a rapid and steady descent down through the progressively horrid spheres of hell from there... criminally, morally and ethically speaking, of course, that is... It's all good, though -- and after all, it's all in good humor and it's all just for laughs, right? Sure it is -- as long as the price goes to eleven -- MILLION, that is...!

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  • Baron Chestney's Blah Blah Blog #31 -- Good Old Fashioned Negotiations and the Counter Offer Form: Rust In Peace!

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Colma, Home Buying in Colma, Home Selling in Colma  |  June 7, 2014 12:05 AM  |  269 views  |  No comments

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     Baron Chestney's Blah Blah Blog -- Good Old Fashioned Negotiations and the Counter Offer: Rust in Peace...

    There are probably millions of special rooms in hell that are being reserved for real estate professionals, for a whole myriad of reasons.  One of them, let's call it a honeymoon suite, is for the hordes of real estate professionals who have caused countless numbers of trees to be slaughtered as a result of their endless reams of paperwork wasted on each transaction.  By wastefully requiring all potential buyers (even the 50 who will NOT get the property) to print out and sign hundreds of pages of disclosures, the negative environmental impact ("carbon footprint", if you wish) caused by each listing is nothing short of mind boggling.  Multiply that waste times the number of listings, and, well, you get the point... On the positive side, however, at least from an ecological standpoint, is the fact that at least ONE old standby form in the regular practice of real estate -- namely, the Counter Offer form -- is hardly being used at all these days. In fact, the age-old process of negotiating back and forth on a real estate offer (over price and terms, for example) has become all but extinct.  In this edition of Baron Chestney's blah blah blog, we will investigate some of the potential reasons why of one of the oldest real estate forms in the book has become virtually extinct..

    First of all, the classic back-and-forth negotiations between buyer and seller have become virtually extinct. So, why has the customary practice of negotiation between real estate buyer and seller been almost completely abandoned? Whatever happened to the classic back and forth exchanges of Counter Offer forms between buyer and seller that used to be a standard part of almost every real estate transaction? We have questioned many agents and brokers as to why this has been happening.  The most common answer that we got is nothing short of shocking.  It boils down to one simple reason more than any other: sheer laziness.  Yes, you read that correctly -- laziness.  Listing agents and brokers these days have become not only very greedy and very complacent, but they have also become very, very lazy.  They don't want to do any more work than that which is absolutely necessary.  Once they take the listing, they expect to hold one or two open houses at most (if even that!), and then to just accept the highest and best offer and close escrow a few weeks later. These days, the seller's market is SO strong, and there are SO many offers well over the asking price (and many of them are ALL CASH offers, to boot) that the listing agents have decided to simply take the highest and best offer and run to the bank to cash their commission checks! Gone are the days of haggling and negotiating back and forth. Why bother, right?! Well, the listing agents who allow laziness to dictate their actions are of course doing a grave disservice to their clients by failing to act in their best interests from the standpoint of their fiduciary responsibilities and obligations to the seller.  Then again, since when do ethics, rules, or even laws stand in the way of today's new breed of renegade, criminal agent? They don't. So, that's why the new and highly popular practice of "just take the highest and best offer" has become the new rule. Negotiation is a thing of the past.  Counter Offers are antiquated and obsolete.  In fact, the old practice of lining up a second or third buyer as a backup (backup offers) has ALSO been abandoned simply out of laziness. So, if you really want to acquire a property, you better make sure your first offer is your highest and best, because it's the only chance you're going to get! You will NOT be countered back, period.  Pretty amazing, isn't it?! Not really, when one thinks about it...  These days, nothing in the world of San Francisco bay area real estate surprises us and nothing shocks us any more. Agents and brokers are conducting themselves like common criminals, as opposed to professionals.  The old rules have been thrown out the window.  In a time when ethics are unheard of, and laws are laughed at, how can we expect traditional, habitual ways of doing business to have any meaning any longer?  We cannot. Laziness has prevailed.  So, goodbye, negotiations.  Rest in peace, Counter Offer form. It was nice knowing you. Speaking on behalf of those precious few of us who still care about the way real estate should be practiced:  you will be sorely missed.

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  • Baron Chestney's Blah Blah Blog #30 -- Looking to Buy a Property? Looking to Sell a Property? How About An Auction?

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Colma, Home Selling in Colma, Property Q&A in Colma  |  October 2, 2013 1:26 AM  |  737 views  |  No comments

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    Baron Chestney's Blah Blah Blog #30 -- Looking to Buy a Property? Looking to Sell a Property? How About an Auction?!

    Going, going, GONE!!! What just happened? Right before your eyes, and those of hundreds of others in the auction hall, that million dollar San Francisco bay area house just sold -- for $1.2 million! It did not sit on the market for months. It did not go through an agonizing process of haggling, negotiating, and countering back and forth. In a matter of mere minutes, any potential buyers who were seriously interested in the house had an opportunity to buy it -- right there, on the spot. Wow. Think about that for a moment. Somewhere along the line, you've probably been to some type of auction. If not, you most likely know someone who has. At the very least, you've seen an auction take place in a movie, or on a TV show. You know -- an episode of an old sitcom, in which one or more of the characters bids on an item (or several items), often with disastrous results... Characters will either get into a vicious bidding war against another bidder, or they will accidentally make a slight movement of facial expression that the auctioneer misinterprets as a higher bid on the item, or the character ends up the winner of an item for which he or she cannot even afford the taxes -- or all of the above! Whether it is an art auction, an auction of rare collectibles, an auction for charity, a vehicle auction, a jewelry auction, or some other type of auction, the basic process remains the same. So, is the auction process well suited for San Francisco bay area real estate, as well? Absolutely! In fact, auctions are rapidly gaining in popularity as a way to sell residential, commercial, retail, and mixed use real estate, as well as vacant land and even timeshares. Let's discuss some of the reasons why auctions are an excellent way to buy and/or sell real estate, and what makes them so popular for both San Francisco bay area home buyers and San Francisco home sellers alike -- not to mention real estate professionals, as well!

    Both sellers and buyers of real estate have their own set of frustrations with the traditional real estate sales processthat we real estate brokers hear all the time. Sellers complain that the home sale process can take too long, that they hate having their property exposed on the market throughout the process, and that they feel that when they finally accept an offer, they may have left some money on the table. Buyers complain that they feel that their offer has vanished into a black hole, that the listing agent is playing games and manipulating the offers and/or not even submitting them all, that the listing agent is giving an unfair advantage to offers brought by other agents within his/her company, and that even if they are successful in winning the bidding war, they may be paying way more for the property than they really needed to. Indeed, all real estate sales are, in essence, an auction -- really, they are what is called a "sealed bid auction" -- buyers submit offers, and only the seller and listing agent will ever really know how many offers were received, and what the terms and amounts of each offer were. The process is not entirely transparent, in other words. What is so attractive about a real estate auction is that the process is entirely transparent. Everyone gets to see exactly what is going on, every step of the way. A seller will never need to wonder if he or she could have obtained more money for his/her property. A buyer will never need to feel that perhaps he or she paid more than he/she needed to in order to win the bid and acquire the property. Within a very short period of time, and right out in the open for all to see, the property is sold. No other scenario in real estate could present such a pure and free market as can that of an auction. Even better, everyone seems to enjoy the process -- home sellers, home buyers, and even San Francisco bay area real estate professionals. That's a winning bid across the board in my book!

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  • Baron Chestney's Blah Blah Blog #28 -- Agents of Fortune: They Feel The Need -- The Need For Extreme Greed!!!

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Colma, Home Buying in Colma, Home Selling in Colma  |  October 2, 2013 1:23 AM  |  736 views  |  No comments

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    Baron Chestney's Blah Blah Blog #28-- Real Estate Agents Feel The Need -- The Need for Extreme Greed!!!

    After a 6 year period of an absolutely dismal real estate market, San Francisco bay area real estate agents are back with a vengeance, and they want blood. Well, not exactly -- more accurately, they want CASH!!! They'll spill blood if they have to to get the cash, but it's really just the cash that they want... After 6 years of having to sell their blood just to be able to put food on the table, the tables have in fact turned -- greedy real estate agents are now firmly in the driver's seat, and looking to suck every last drop out of your bank account. Armed with several new tactics that would make Machiavelli himself blush with shame, these unabashed modern day pirates are pillaging and plundering their way to almost unlimited riches as bay area home buyers and sellers have just recently awoke from a six year hibernation to find a red hot real estate craze buzzing around them like honey bees around their disturbed hive. The hottest new greed grab that the local real estate agents are using is the "pocket listing" or the "not on mls listing". We have already described this masterful technique in disgusting detail in Baron Chestney's Blah Blah Blog #25, "The Pocket Listing and the Not on MLS Listing --The Ultimate Greed Grabs". Listing agents are the ones who are employing the "pocket listing" and the "not on mls listing" scams, and of course these scams are aimed at the seller. However, not to be outdone, and also wanting a hefty slice of greedy pie, buyer's agents are in on the scamming action as well, having themselves devised a much more insidious, hidden, sneaky, and "under the radar" kind of greed grab...this technique is so secretive that there's not even really a name for it, in fact! For the purpose of discussion here, we'll simply call it the "(DON'T) SHOW ME THE PROPERTY!!!". One of the latest culled from a long (and rapidly growing) list of questionable (illegal, unethical, or both) behaviors and practices currently being employed by real estate agents, the "(DON'T) Show Me The Property" is the practice of simply NOT showing a client a particular property (or properties) for sale. Very much like the pocket listing / not on mls listing technique, the "DON'T Show me The Property" technique is not really a new tactic at all, but rather just a new twist on an old scam that is almost as old as real estate itself. The new breed of real estate agents, who are almost single-mindedly driven by greed have resurrected this ancient technique so that they could apply it to the current real estate market right here in the bay area. Sometimes, just like in the case of modern day piracy, an old technique can work very well in modern times. Dig it up, dust it off, tweak it a little bit, and viola -- the scam is back in business again! Ok, so, the natural question would of course be, "Why on earth would a real estate agent NOT want to show a home to a buyer?" Keeping in mind that the innocent mind thinks very differently from the criminal mind, please allow us to share with you some of the twisted thought patterns of any one of our greedy competitors in answering that question... "Why, GREED, of course!". These days, the average commission on a real estate listing is 5 percent (2.5 percent to seller's agent/2.5 percent to buyer's agent). The 6 percent commission listings are becoming more and more of a rarity these days, thanks to the efforts of discount brokerages like us which have been trying to bring the commission rates down across the board, by exerting a constant downward pressure on our greedy competitors... We have largely succeeded in reducing the 100 year old "good old boy" 6 percent commission "rule of thumb" down to 5 percent -- but whenever we have tried testing the waters and going any lower than that on the buyer's side, disaster has ensued! Greed kicks in immediately, and buyers agents begin to employ the "DON'T Show Me The Property" technique. We have only tested the approach of listing a home at less than 5 percent on a few occasions -- taking our usual 1 percent commission to list the house, and then offering a 2 percent commission to the buyer's agent (instead of 3 percent or 2.5 percent) -- at the seller's insistence, of course -- but in each case, the home for sale was in a hot market with crazy demand and very low inventory. Even so, not at all surprisingly, (and we knew we would...) we very quickly received actual anonymous death threats from several agents, and many of them simply refused to even show the property to prospective clients. Most recently, we tried this with a $1.5 mil listing in a very hot bay area city. A 2 percent commission on a $1.5 million house is not exactly peanuts, and inventory is very low, so the demand for a good house (this one was a beauty) is very high... There were a few small, independent brokers who were willing to work for a 2 percent commission, and one of them eventually did indeed bring the buyer. The property sold for way over the asking price and the seller was delighted, paying us a 1 percent commission and the buyer's agent a 2% commission, for a 3% total commission. However, in addition to the death threats that we received, rumor has it that the local agents from all of the big real estate companies were busy concocting all sorts of crazy stories as to WHY they did not want to show the house to their buyer clients -- because of course, the buyers DID, in fact, ask to see the house (naturally!). Agents used some of their classic, tried and true lies, telling their prospective buyer clients that the house was haunted, it had "negative energy", it was cursed, it was unlucky, a prior owner had hacked his family to death in the house using a butter knife and then hung himself from a coat rack, it had bad feng shui, etc , etc.-- it is not shocking to us whatsoever, because that sort of thing is just routine practice these days -- and though their devious little minds keep coming up with new twists and turns on all the old lies, scams, and tricks, for the most part, if there is anything a criminal lacks, it is usually originality! What we just cannot believe, though, is that home buyers would not still demand to see the house no matter what, despite whatever excuses their agents were making to avoid showing it to them -- they don't challenge their agents, or question them, or simply stand up and demand : "SHOW ME THE PROPERTY!!!" -- but alas, these agents have a handy, hefty line of bullsh*t at the ready in response to pretty much anything -- and even worse, their clients actually seem to believe it, and usually just accept whatever their agents say as truth! So, the next time your real estate agent screams "SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!", why don't you think about responding with "SHOW ME THE PROPERTY!!!" ?!

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  • Baron Chestney's Blah Blah Blog #27 -- Dumb and Dumber, Greedy and Greedier: It's Buyer vs. Seller!!!

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Colma, Home Buying in Colma, Home Selling in Colma  |  April 13, 2013 6:27 AM  |  1,222 views  |  1 comment
    Baron Chestney's Blah Blah Blog #27 --  Dumb and Dumber, Greedy and Greedier: It's Buyer vs. Seller!!!

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    It's as old as David vs. Goliath, as ugly as Cain vs. Abel, as tragic as Blue vs. Grey, as stubborn as the Hatfields vs. the McCoys, as vicious as red vs. blue, as funny as the roadrunner vs. the coyote, as surprising as spy vs. spy, as tearful as Kramer vs. Kramer, and it's dumb and it's greedy, too -- it's one of the oldest, craziest rivalries of all time: it's buyer vs. seller!  Sure, we could be referring to buyers and sellers of almost anything -- food, clothing, drugs, illegal handguns, whatever -- but since this is a real estate blog, and specifically, a bay area real estate blog, in this case, we're referring to home buyers and home sellers in the San Francisco bay area.  Yes, you. What? You want to charge us royalties, you say? Sorry, greedbags -- this is our blog, and we run the show here. You won't be paid one thin cent, and we're going to have a huge laugh here, entirely at your expense -- gratis. On the HOUSE -- no pun intended... Ok, let it roll... So, how was copper wire invented? A San Francisco bay area home buyer and home seller were fighting over a penny. Ridiculous? Hardly. The casual reader, and even the non-licensed person who has more than a casual interest in real estate, would be shocked at the kinds of things that San Francisco home buyers and home sellers fight over. Funny? Oh, yeah. Stupid? You bet! Greedy? For sure! Ever since the first modern day homes were built in the San francisco bay area about 150 years ago, buyers and sellers of real estate have been at war, fighting almost to the death with each other over the stupidest, most trivial of things. Certainly, all things may be evaluated on a scale of magnitude. For example, a battle over water rights, mineral rights, or an easement can be a battle well worth waging!  That sort of melee is common enough that it's not considered trivial or unreasonable at all. However, what if the home buyer and home seller were to engage in combat over, say, the ugly purple curtains, the hideous tortoise shell chandelier, or the cherry red washer and dryer? "Come on, that would never happen!", you say. WRONG! Each of those ridiculous items became not only the centerpiece of a raging war between buyer and seller, but in fact actually managed to KILL the deal! Don't worry -- the names of the imbeciles are being withheld to protect the guilty... Seriously, though, folks, we are not joking. In each of those cases, the buyer and seller could not put their differences aside, and became so embroiled in the act of fighting itself that they eventually forgot what they were fighting over -- they remembered only that they had to WIN. Win, win, win. Sure, everybody loves to win. However, somewhere along the line, someone came up with the crazy idea that in any real estate transaction, there has to be a winner and a loser.  Why is that? We're not quite sure. Is it human nature? Is it a cultural thing? The Native American peoples did not believe in the concept of land ownership.  They believed that the land belonged to everyone -- including the animals. European explorers, unfortunately, had quite a different set of ideas and principles regarding land and land ownership...so, $20 odd dollars worth of beads got traded, and Manhattan was sold.  Alaska sold for 2 cents an acre.  The Louisiana Purchase was a pretty good deal, too! Even 40 acres and a mule wasn't such a bad deal at all, considering it was free for the taking if you would just farm the land... Once again, these are extreme examples. If we broke those deals down, perhaps we could actually identify a winner and a loser in each transaction. However, what about a basic, run of the mill real estate transaction -- a simple home sale? Does there have to be a winner and a loser every time a home changes owenership? Some people believe that the answer is YES. There are indeed certain cultures that are alive and well represented right here in the San Francisco bay area that believe that any business transaction MUST have a loser and a winner. The people who follow such cultures believe that with any home for sale, they must try to figure out what the seller is hiding, and then try to find a way to beat the seller at his own game.  Even with new construction, these people are looking for any opportunity to "pull one over" on the builder. Warranties will be called on -- you can bet your bottom penny on it! They had to pay a high price to acquire the new home, they feel, and therefore you can bet they're going to try to recoup some of that purchase price any way they can. With a pre-owned home, the oppportunity for nickling and diming is of course much more obvious, as there probably are no warranties remaining, and the home and all of its features (appliances, fixtures, etc.) are likely beginning to show wear and tear and may be in need of repair. Once again, the objective is to try to get the better of the other party by quibbling, haggling, and trying to hack away at the price. So begins the utterly ridiculous and thoroughly stupid dance of greed, as home buyer grapples with home seller in a spectacle that is so peurile, so awkward, and so inane that it really hurts to watch.  Unfortunately, as real estate professionals, we've got front row seats to these hideous spectacles.  We get to watch each insensitive, cruel, spiteful, vengeful step as the buyer and seller attempt to tear each other apart with their bare hands over something so insignificant as a rubber doorstop. If anything brings out the worst in the human spirit, it is most certainly a real estate transaction! Greed starts the dance and gives it plenty of momentum, and stupidity makes the buyer and seller continue fighting back and forth until well after the music has stopped. Each combatant feels that only one party can win, and the fight must continue until a clear victor has emerged. Buyer vs. seller -- dumb vs. dumber -- greedy vs. greedier....Never once do either of them think for just an instant "is there a way that both of us can win?"... No! Never! To the death! So the battle rages on...and we watch helplessly as another deal dies over something trivial...It's only natural to ask "Why does it have to be that way?", though. The "What if..." scenario instantly comes to mind, as in "What if buyers and sellers adopted a win-win strategy, instead of always clinging stubbornly to a win-lose approach?"  Believe it or not, win-win solutions ARE indeed possible in real estate transactions! We have, in fact, done hundreds of them! In fact, we try very, very hard to make ALL of our transactions win-win-win-win -- that means a win for the seller, a win for the buyer, a win for the listing agent, and a win for the buyer's agent. Imagine that! Is it really possible? Of course it is! In fact, it's not even a hard thing to do.  HOWEVER, it does require that both the buyer and the seller keep an open mind and remain open and willing to the idea of cooperating with the other, as opposed to automatically adopting an adversarial stance.  Imagine that! Yes, it's easy if you try ... You can get along with each other and put together a win-win-win-win transaction, or you can fight like crazy over a cherry-red colored washer and dryer that ends up killing the deal. "Oh, come on", you say -- a deal died over a washer and dryer? Dear readers, deals have died over far less than a washer and a dryer -- believe us -- and yes, that's a true story about the cherry red washer and dryer! We offered to buy the washer and dryer for the buyer, as a gift from us, to help put the deal together. Guess what happened. The buyer said NO, and insisted that the washer and dryer MUST be paid for from the seller's pocket, as a matter of principle. While we could have just given the seller the cash and told him to go buy the hideous-colored appliances, we don't work that way -- so, the deal died. Affix bayonnettes...gas masks on.... ready, morons? To the death ...  CHARGE!!!

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  • Baron Chestney's Blah Blah Blog #25 -- the Pocket Listing and Not on MLS Listing -- the Ultimate Greed Grabs!!!

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Colma, Home Buying in Colma, Home Selling in Colma  |  April 13, 2013 6:27 AM  |  1,160 views  |  No comments

    Baron Chestney's Blah Blah Blog #25 -- the Pocket Listing and the Not on MLS Listing -- the Ultimate Greed Grabs!!!

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    Remember our old friend, agent Wily W. Weasel of Weasel World Wide Properties? (See Baron Chestney's Blah Blah Blog #15, if you don't) Well, he's been out and about recently, prowling the front lines of the San Francisco bay area real estate market, and he's got quite a lot to report about some of the latest and greatest lies, cheats, scams, and crimes that are being perpetrated by our local bay area "criminal gang" of real estate agents. Naturally, some of these scams are of the old, "tried and true" variety -- some things just never change. However, when putting together his "weasel report", which documents the top weasel activities being used by weasel agents, Wily noticed that there are some brand new "techniques" that agents are using to exploit, terrorize, and rip off the general public. These techniques make use of an old concept, but they twist and contort it in such a way as to create what is perhaps the most bold, brazen, in-your-face scam that has been perpetrated by the San Francisco bay area real estate community upon the unsuspecting public in quite some time.  We've seen several names for this nifty little crime -- the "pocket listing", the "not on mls listing", and perhaps our favorite doublespeak term, the "pre-mls opportunity" are some of the more popular terms being used -- but no doubt many more will arise as times go on... Call it what you will, but, by any other name, it's the ultimate greed grab! 

    A "pocket listing" is an old real estate term. It used to be used in a relatively harmless and innocent fashion... it meant that an agent or broker knew about a listing that would be coming onto the market soon. That agent or broker could mention such a listing in casual passing to a client of his/hers, or to other agents or brokers, to friends and neighbors, etc. Sure, the term had a bit of a negative connotation -- it was a naughty little secret. Most likely, the agent or broker could use the information to get an advantage in making the sale. By knowing that a listing was coming up, the agent or broker could try to line up a buyer in advance.  Indeed, maybe a deal could even be put together before the property even needed to be brought to market.  Yes, surely, this could give the agent/broker an unfair advantage.  However, it was just something that would come up once in a while during the normal conduct of business. It was not done very often, and it was done in a "hush hush" fashion, on a very small, local scale, once in a while.  These days, however, things are quite different, to say the least.  The brash, ballsy new breed of agents and brokers have adopted the pocket listing concept and exploited it to the nth degree. The result is the "new" type of pocket listing, which first was called the pocket listing, in a nostalgic nod to the past sort of way, but then quickly morphed into the "not on mls" listing (very direct, as if to suggest nothing is being done underhandedly), and finally became the "pre-mls opportunity" (are they kidding?!), in an effort to cloak a negative in positive wording. Opportunity?! For WHOM?! Yup -- the listing agent, of course -- who else?! Oh, my -- oh how the times have changed! The new breed of agents and brokers are turning the pocket listing/ not on mls listing / pre-mls opportunity into the "normal" way of doing business!  No longer an exception or a rare occurrence -- they are making it the NORM!  Concisely put, the idea here may be summarized as follows: tell 'em you're gonna screw 'em, screw 'em, and then tell 'em, you've just screwed 'em! Why not, right? If you can get away with it, why not just go ahead and do it?! After all, no one's going to put a stop to it...as usual, the local real estate boards, the mls organizations, and even the DRE are just looking the other way, pretending that there isn't a problem...

    So, what exactly IS the problem with this practice, you may ask? Well, let us count the ways -- ways in which this practice is simply wrong, that is... Let's first take a look at exactly what a pocket listing / not on mls listing / pre-mls opportunity is.  It is a property for sale on which an agent/broker has taken a listing, but refused to place the listing on the MLS (multiple listing service).  In effect, the agent/broker has simply written the listing, and then tucked it away in his or her pocket - hence, the original term, "pocket listing".  So, what's wrong with that, you may ask.  What's NOT wrong with that?! The whole idea behind the MLS is that brokers and agents take listings, post them on the mls, and advertise them for sale. The listing agent/broker earns a commission when the listing is sold, and this is earned in exchange for taking and marketing/advertising the listing.  The commission is split (shared) equally with the agent/broker who finds and brings the buyer.  In the overwhelming majority of real estate transactions, there is one agent/broker representing the seller, and a different agent/broker representing the buyer.  The idea is that the property for sale will be advertised on the MLS, and then all agents/brokers have a fair chance to bring buyers, who will compete for the property.  In this way, the seller receives maximum market exposure for the property.  Whoever brings the highest and best offer will acquire the property.  Indeed, it is by law and by definition the fiduciary duty of the listing agent to the seller to obtain the highest and best offer for the seller's property. Normally, this is naturally achieved through listing the property on the MLS such that it may enjoy full market exposure.  However, in the case of the pocket listing / not on mls listing / pre-mls opportunity, the listing agent is simply going to hoard the listing all to himself/herself, and offer it for sale to a buyer who will also work through him/her.  In this way, the listing agent can also get the commission for bringing the buyer -- a practice known as "double-ending" the transaction.  Keep in mind that it is possible, and it does happen, that an agent will represent both sides in a transaction from time to time.  If the listing agent also happens to have the best buyer with the best offer, and full disclosure is made to all parties, it can happen. That is not the issue in this case, however. The issue here is that the pocket listing / not on mls listing actively and directly and intentionally PRECLUDES any other agent/broker from bringing a buyer, such that the listing agent is GUARANTEED to steal both sides of the commission! Again, one might wonder why there is a problem in such a case. Very simply, the problem is that the listing agent, in his/her ultimate greed, is denying the seller's property its fair market exposure.  The listing agent is restricting the agents/brokers who might bring a buyer to just one: himself/herself. (Often, another agent from the listing agent's company is used, in an effort to make things look less criminal -- yeah, right --as if that makes any difference!). There is no open/free market on the property. The property is not really advertised to the general buying public, or even to the agent/broker community, which would then advertise it to the general public.  This practice is a blatant breach of the listing agent's contractual fiduciary obligation and duty to the seller. The listing is purposely being denied market exposure, simply so that the listing agent/broker can feed his/her need for greed -- pretty slick, indeed! 

    2% cash rebates for home buyers and 2% commission discounts for home sellers with the Baron!

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