Home Buying in Palo Alto>Question Details

Luke Lee, Home Buyer in Boston, MA

Home Buying Advice for Newbie Coming to California.

Asked by Luke Lee, Boston, MA Thu Jun 20, 2013

I just accepted a job offer from Google and will be relocating to California from Boston in August. My preference is a family orientated community close the Googleplex in Mountain View. Since I am new to California Real Estate, what are the top 5 questions I should be asking Agents before I dive into the Bay Area housing market?

Help the community by answering this question:


Here's a starter list:

1) Do you personally own real estate? (you want someone who understands the financial obligations of a homeowner)
2) How long have you been a homeowner? (The longer the better)
3) How long have you been a licensed REALTOR? (Generally the longer the better, especially in today´s markets-you want a professional who´s navigated through difficult markets and can give you solid, not inflammatory, advice.)
4) Are you a full-time real estate professional? (They should be committed to their job, and to you.)
5) Do they provide a written guarantee or easy-exit clause if you're not happy with their services?

I have a few more-you can contact me with an email or text to 408-252-8900 and I'll send the list to you. (Don't want to give away all my secrets for me here.)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 29, 2013

Congrats on the new role and welcome to the Bay Area!

There are many items to consider when purchasing here - and of course it is a really good idea to find out what loan options are available so you know what you can afford and qualify for.

This would then allow you to be very prepared for the interview process of realtors.

Questions for your interview once you have your loan approval in place:

1) Given my loan approval, where do I get the biggest return for my buck?
2) What areas do you specifically service?
3) Given the intense competition to purchase a home in the Bay Area, what will you do to make my offer stand out?
4) How do I balance location with cost, commute and community?
5) Are there other factors like growth that would impact where I choose to live?

These would give you a true sense of skill sets and commitment to your successful launch into the local market.

Best regards,

Eric O. Nelson, III
Sr. Mortgage Planner
SVC Funding
DRE # 01258488
NMLS # 120412
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 27, 2013
1. How many homes have you sold this year?
2. How many homes did you sell in 2012?
3. How many homes did you sell in 2004?
4. How many homes did you sell in 2007-09?
5. Why should I choose you?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 21, 2013
Congrats Luke. My advice is to rent first until you get to know the area. Even though there are million dollar homes in Boston, our real estate is just too expensive to make a mistake. Settle in first and then see what's available.


0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 20, 2013
Welcome to California and congrats on getting a job with Google. All the agents have given you good advice on what questions to ask agents to see if you want to work with them, Your relationship with your agent is crucial to having a good experience in the Bay Area Housing market. this is a wonderful place to live but our market is different than most other markets in the country. You will need to learn a lot before you are ready to buy a house in the Mountain View, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale area.

So I realize this is not what you are asking, but I have questions for you?

1. Do you have enough money or the desire to spend enough money to buy in this area. Finding a house under a million dollars is almost impossible and most homes go between one and 2 million.

2. Are you willing to be in a competitive situation to buy a house. Many homes get between 5 and 10 offers each and go 5-10 % over list price. are you willing to ignore list price and pay what you will have to to get the house. Do you have the money to do that?

3. Most single family homes in the area are older, at least 50+ years old. Some have been upgraded and some haven't. Are you ok with an older house?

4. If you want a new or new home it will most likely be a town home on a tiny lot. Will that be ok for you?

5. Are you ok with spending 6-12 months to find a home. Sometimes you can get one in a week, but more often it takes a long time to get a home. We have historically low inventory levels and it often just takes a long time to find a home.

I hope I have not turned you off to trying to buy a home near Google, but realism is the most import trait you can have in this market. Google, Apple, and hundreds of other companies are hiring much faster than homes are becoming available. Competition is fierce. In addition to picking a real estate agent who you click with, who has great skills and knowledge, and who you trust completely, you must be totally committed to the process in order to succeed.

If you want to have a look at what is for sale in the area you can search at:


Marcy Moyer
Keller Williams Realty Palo Alto
DRE 01191194
Web Reference: http://www.marcymoyer.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 20, 2013
Hi Luke,
Welcome to Mountain View! You'll love it here. The downtown area is great, and people are very down-to-earth and friendly. I moved here from Australia about 12 years ago, and It's been great.

Anyway, I'm sure you know all this stuff, so down to your question. Here's a few suggestions for you:

1/. Do you work as a full-time real estate agent ? How long have you been helping people find new homes?

2/. How many clients do you have at this time ? (Remember, too few might show inexperience, too many may mean that you don’t get the personal attention you deserve.)

3/. Do you have an assistant or other staff members? (Does that mean you'll be working with the agent you selected, or someone else?

4/. How many potential buyers do you talk to in a day? A week? A year ?

5/. What do you do that's 'outside the box'?

Gosh, Luke...you only want 5 questions? Can I suggest a few more?

6/. How many properties in Mountain View have you sold in the past year, 6 months? 90 days?

7/. Where do you live? Play?

8/. Do you have a list of current references that I can check ?

9/. How will you communicate with me? Do I have to track you down on the phone, or do you text? Email? (Don't laugh - some agents are techno-phobic!)

OK I'll stop now, I promise.
Let me know when you settle in, and I'll walk downtown and buy you coffee.
Oh, and congrats on the job.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 20, 2013
Over the years, I lived in Mountain View, Sunnyvale (twice) and then up in Dublin.
My suggestion would be to search first in Mt. View; then move outward from there.
The prices are pretty much adjusted for the desirability in each city; you get what you pay for!
The exception would be Los Gatos, which is old, cultish, homey and more expensive.
Good restaurants and shopping everywhere; that shouldn't be a major factor.
I thought Google was in Campbell on Hamilton.
Good luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 20, 2013
Welcome to the SF peninsula Luke.

Even before you talk to agents you will want to become somewhat familiar with the local housing market. I have extensive real estate statistics on my website at http://julianalee.com/palo-alto/palo-alto-statistics.htm

Local home prices are strongly affected by school ratings. Even if schools are not especially important to you their affect on the housing market can not be ignored. Generally people who are successful and value education for their children are more likely to buy a home in an area with good schools. They have to spend more money to get a comparable home.

Five questions:
1.) Success ... how many home buyers have you helped to buy a home?
2.) Experience ... how long have you been working as a full time real estate agent?
3.) Areas ... which cities have you sold homes in?
4.) Expert advice ... can you recommend a lender, a property inspector, etc ? Why do you recommend them?
5.) Why are you the best agent to help me find and purchase a home?

I can provide recommendations from people working at Google, even other than from my daughter ;-)

Juliana Lee
Top 2 agent nationwide at Keller Williams Realty, the nations largest
Cell 650-857-1000

Over 20 years experience
Over 1,000 homes sold in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties
Web Reference: http://julianalee.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 20, 2013
Congratulations on the Job! Not only are you moving to California, you're moving to the Bay Area which is one of the most expensive in the country. You may experience sticker shock...but many who move to this state do.

I'm not a big believe in formal interview with agents. You have enough smarts to be hired by Google, so trust your instincts. Meet with 3 Realtors...and go out in the field with them. Let them show you what they know...

After going home browsing with all 3 ...one agent will feel more right to you than the others. Anyone can say anything in an interview. Ask each to show you a few homes in different neighborhoods and a rapport will either develop or it won't.

Best of luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 20, 2013
You can ask me all the questions you would like! I work for Century 21 in Sunnyvale (right near the Google headquarters). I am a full time Realtor and you can look up my current/active listing at 3443 Santa Barbara Ave in Santa Clara.

Travis Jackson
Century 21 M & M Associates - Sunnyvale
(408) 316-5954

0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 20, 2013
Good Question and welcome to Sunny California.

1) How long have you been in real estate?
2) Do you work full time?
3) What percentage of your business comes from the internet and what from Referrals?
4) What sets you apart from the other agents?
5) Do you offer a free in person consultation?
6) What is your knowledge of the current market?
7) What is your experience with New Construction along with Resale?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 20, 2013
Search Advice
Ask our community a question
Email me when…

Learn more

Copyright © 2016 Trulia, Inc. All rights reserved.   |  
Have a question? Visit our Help Center to find the answer