Home Selling in 94086>Question Details

Jerry, Home Owner in Cupertino, CA

Selling a SFH in the Ponderosa Park neighborhood of Sunnyvale

Asked by Jerry, Cupertino, CA Mon Apr 30, 2012

Just moved out and planning to put it on the market in the coming weeks or months. I'm noodling around a couple of issues in my mind...

1. I've heard that some agents charge only a 5% commission rather than the usual 6%. In this market is a 6% agent going to get me more to make up the higher commission?
2. Should I put it on the market now or wait a few months? I don't mind holding on to the house for a while if the market looks to be trending up.
3. Does it make sense to go with a listing agent that seems pretty popular in this neighborhood or doesn't it really matter?

Any advice on this or previous threads that covered these issues would be greatly appreciated!



Help the community by answering this question:


Dear Jerry,

I think all of the below answers are valid, however there is one issue which hasn't been addressed and that is one of agent stats. Consider that some agents get exceedingly more for their listings in a sale than others. (example our listing at 1119 Timberpine Ct. for $940K), a price that far exceeded the going prices in the area. That wasn't a result of random luck, it was a month and a half of our home preparation prior to putting it on the market. We did everything from landscaping a previously unlandscaped yard, to refinishing hardwood floors, putting in new doors, crown molding, granite counters, etc. We consistantly sell our homes in record time and at record prices and Timberpine is just one example of a job well done.

2ndly, there is the realtor stat of selling a higher percentage of listings vs. the competition. If you go with a high volume producer, yes they do list a lot of homes, but do they sell them? I've tracked my numbers and I sell 93% of all my listings, usually within the first week or two. Compare that to an industry average of 60-70%. If a listing fails to sell in first couple of weeks, it usually means price reduction (not good for sellers). We also have less than a 1% fail rate on our escrows (deals that fall through). It always surprises me to find how that differs with the industry standard. Keeping a deal together and closing it is the job of a great agent. I would hardly consider being "popular in the neighborhood" as a good reason to go with, since it's no indicator of how well they perform in selling their listings, or of the prices they achieve.

So while it may be a matter of commission, please don't be fooled into believing it isn't also a matter of performance and getting better than average results. These results can be verified by 3rd parties-they are called Agent metrics. If you are looking for a great outcome, interview several agents and make the comparisons for yourself. Whatever you decide, wish you well.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 1, 2012
1. Agents try to get the highest sale price they can given the condition of the property and the time frame in which you want it sold. In practice, a higher commission of 6% (3% to listing broker, 3% to buyer's broker) shouldn't matter, but it provides more of a marketing budget to the listing broker and more incentive to a buyer's broker to show the property.
2. Don't put it on the market until you've completed at least termite, roof, and general property inspections. Rushing to put it on the market before you confirm the condition of the property and make needed repairs can reduce the eventual sale price and could lengthen the time needed to sell. But if you want to sell this year, start the inspection process ASAP.
3. I don't believe very strongly in neighborhood specialists. Instead I'd recommend a broker who tells you the honest truth about the condition of your property and how it will compete against similar properties for sale in the area, has a good marketing plan, and is a tough negotiator. It's not a popularity contest and you're not looking for a new best friend or "agent for life." You want someone who will put bottom line $$$ in your pocket within your schedule.
Best of luck!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue May 1, 2012
Hi Jerry,
How did it all turn out?

1. How much total commission did you pay and do you think you got a good price for your home?
2. Now is an excellent time to sell. When did you sell? Do you think it was the right time to sell?
3. Did you go by popularity or some other criteria to choose your agent? Do you feel it make a difference?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 9, 2013
I wanted to thank everyone who took the time to post the answers to my questions. I appreciate getting the different perspectives and in particular the buyer's views that Allyson shared.

When we bought our current home, we did most of the research ourselves. I didnt feel that the information our agent provided us was much more informative than the research I did myself from various real estate sites. Our agent was very helpful once we started the offer process - I wouldnt want to handle all that paperwork myself - but in terms of figuring out the market trends and prices and such, all we really got from our agent was a lot of historical data. I think what would have been helpful in figuring out pricing is knowing more about each of the transactions - particulars about the properties, how many offers were made, etc. But it seems that this type of information is more word-of-mouth from the agents' social circles and, in retrospect, I wasnt sure if my agent was in the right circles for the area we bought in.

The other observation was that, at least in the areas we looked at, it seemed to me that 80+% of the price for a property was determined by macroeconomic factors (how the economy is doing) and the location of the property, with the other 20% determined by the particulars of the specific property such as condition, etc. A number of the answers talked about marketing plans, etc. It's not clear to me, as a non-professional in this business, how this helps to improve the sales price. It seems that most listings are on the MLS and thats where buyers go to find houses, so I'm not sure why it's worthwhile to spend money on other outreach channels.

With these experiences in mind, as now I am on the other side of the transaction, I'm more inclined to find someone who is tapped into the local gossip circles (or whatever mechanisms agents use to find out information not listed in the MLS) so I can get insights into the local market beyond the spreadsheet data, and probably an agent with a lower commission (and perhaps less marketing) as I'd rather spend the money improving the condition of the property than on additional forms of advertising which I'm not sure I would need in this market.

Just wanted to share my thoughts as a way contributing back to the community. :)


0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 16, 2012
Hi Jerry,
Just a few more things you might not have known or considered:
1. When you hire an agent from a respected, name-brand agency like a Century 21 you get greater exposure and a team of agents helping, in addition to the agent you hired. Century 21 automatically blasts your listing out to all the major real estate websites. More advertising = more buyers = more bidders = higher sales price = more money in the pocket of the seller.

Also, every listing from our office gets email blasted to every agent in our office. When I have a listing, my fellow agents in our office go all out looking for additional buyers for me, and vice versa, when my fellow Century 21 agents have a listing, I go out looking for buyers for them. It's a win-win. For example, just recently, I helped find the buyer in Sunnyvale for my fellow agent and at the same time, another one of my fellow Sunnyvale colleagues went doorknocking to help me find buyers for my listing.

3. You want someone who knows and cares a lot about Sunnyvale and will know and care a lot about you. People who know me know I'm a big fan of Sunnyvale and have been for the last 2 decades. Sunnyvale is convenient an organized. Sunnyvale has nice neighborhoods, like Ponderosa Park. When someone a couple months ago questioned Ponderosa Park's neighborhood, I defended it and told them to walk around Ponderosa Park themselves to see how nice the neighborhood is.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 4, 2012
1. Depends on the situation.

2. Right now conditions favor sellers. Currently, inventory is very low, so buyers are falling all over each other to bid on the few listings that are available.

Get your house on the market as soon as practical, but don't skip steps. Don't put it on the market until you get termite and property inspections completed and prepare the property to show nicely.

Reduce the number of unknowns. When buyers are unsure how much a repair will cost, they tend to overestimate the cost of the repair and factor that into their offer price.

3. Popularity has pros and cons. Sometimes when people are extremely popular, they don't give you the individual attention you deserve.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 3, 2012
Sunnyvale is a nice city and the Ponderosa Park neighborhood is very quiet and family oriented. A couple months ago, one poster who was new to the area questioned Ponderosa Park due to poverty and crime statistics. I told him/her to just visit Ponderosa Park and see for yourself the people strolling around in the evening, walking around the block, playing in the park, etc. I would be honored to have the opportunity to represent you with your sale.
Flag Thu May 3, 2012
To address this commission issue I started an independent local company in 2004. Dalmatian Realty of Silicon Valley. Handle a few transactions at at time, Conduct all aspects of each transaction personally. Unbeatable listing fee of 4%. And....most importantly A Marketing Program Second to None! This model is more profitable for me than when I was with large companies and the cost savings are a value to my clients. My clients tend to be savvy busines folks who appreciate value and can make independent business decisions.

Timing the market is dicey! Remember the adage....'The Bulls make some, the bears make some but the pigs make none'.

Put yourself in the shoes of a buyer and his agent. Does the buyer care who lists the property? No! The buyer wants his dream house at the lowest price.
Does the agent care who lists the property? No! The agent wants to service the buyer's needs and get his commission.

Good Luck!

Luciano J. Ercolini
Dalmatian Realty of Silicon Valley
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 2, 2012

1.) A person representing a buyer would greatly steer their client towards the home that is offering the higher commissions, however the agent doesn't buy the home so commission does matter.
2.) The inventory is low right now so I would list and sell now while most buyers are in the market looking for great schools which Ponderosa school is a top school however the other schools that go with it are OK.
3.) YES working with a local agent does matter because they are familiar with the area, schools, parks etc.
I was born, raised, work and live in Sunnyvale. I sold 979 Larkspur which is in that location for top dollar in 2011. I am offering you a free consultation with out obligation so that I could at least apply for the job of selling your home. My office is also right around the corner on El Camino in Sunnyvale.
You can email me at http://www.servingsantaclaracounty.com
Best of luck to you.
Thank you
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 1, 2012
Hello Jerry, here's my opinion:
1. Commissions are negotiable. I do not recommend you pay the full 6% commission in your price range (Ponderosa Park).
2. Sell when you are ready but inventory is low right now. Who knows what the future holds.
3. Neighborhood "specialists" are not always special.
I found 8 sold (closed) properties in your neighborhood since 1/1/12 ranging in price from $570k up to $940k. The $570k sale was a small bank owned property wherein the buyer paid cash. (Probably needed a lot of work.) The most recent sold closed escrow on 4/12/12 it is a 4bed 2.5bath 1479sf listed for $748k and sold for $778k. Was only on the market for 8 days. If you would like me to email you the full report, please contact me through my Trulia profile. Kind regards.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 1, 2012
I'm sorry I forgot to answer #2 which is almost equally important. The sooner you put your house on the market the better. Historically our best prices are achieved when there is little inventory, and a vacuum of homes in the target price we are shooting for. As you move towards the end of school, the inventory swells, and even though it brings in more buyers, there is usually more to choose from and the prices seem to level off.
Also, regarding Timberpine, I want to make sure that you understand that this house was on the market at 950K and it came on just before Thanksgiving, Christmas and New years. We did have offers after our first open house, but Seller was firm on price and it wasn't until after we tested the market for several weeks, that we went back to the initial offeror who still wanted the house and negotiated the deal.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 1, 2012

As most have said, commission rates are negotiable. However, it really doesn't matter what you "Pay" as a commission until the home is sold. What is most important is not the commission, but what you keep at the end of the transaction. Too often, sellers choose the agent based on their commission schedule and not on the things that matter most - results.

Because I have been selling homes locally for almost 20 years, I have seen a variety of creative commission schedules in all price ranges. Successful and unsuccessful agents charge high fees. Successful and unsuccessful agents charge lower fees. Don't choose your agent based on his or her fees. Choose one with the best marketing plan, the one with verifiable sales results and one that you feel comfortable working with.

That being said, you need to interview a few agents that you feel comfortable with. Ask them to provide you with a written marketing plan on your home, including the fees they charge. Ask them to give you their "stats" on how many listings they have sold, what they list them at and how quickly they sell. Have them show you their list price to sales price ratio (what they originally list a home for versus what it actually sells for). Have them show you the average time it takes them to sell their listings. If the agent you are interviewing doesn't know how to do this, it may tell you a lot about the agent.

Taking all this data (which can be verified on any agent who is a member of our MLS subscriber), you can compare the board averages of each agent you interview. This should give you a good feel to how successful the agent is in selling homes. You may find agents who spend a lot of time on marketing their name and image may not have the results that you are looking for and those who don't spend a lot of time and money on personal marketing do a better job a selling properties quickly and for more money.

I hope this is helpful and if you haven't already picked an agent, I would love to meet with you to discuss how I can achieve your goals in selling your home.

FYI - If you want to compare my numbers, you can go to http://www.losaltoshomes.com/sellers/ and click on the "Why you should hire David Blockhus to sell your home" video.

Thank you

David Blockhus
Coldwell Banker - Los Altos Office
650 917-4250
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 1, 2012
Hi Jerry,
Well you have recieved some very good advice from some of the best agents in the area. ( I like John's the best). Let me give you a slightly different point of view on this as I work mainly as a buyers agent with a lot of first time home buyers. ( although I do some listings). Commission's should be competitive with the market with that said now I would do as John suggests and get the inspections and work done up front, here is why most of my buyers want move in condition and cannot see past dirt, needing paint, carpet, landscaping, etc. My buyers who look to fix up a property themselves want a steeply discounted home. Now if you get your reports done, they usually give a price to fix it. I will tell you the truth that most of it can be fixed for MUCH less than the estimate, but a buyer does not know this so they will want you to fix it or discount the price, so with the work done it is a non issue and so you get more $$$.
What I would mainly look for in a listing agent is communication, is he/she available to answer my questions and concerns promply, help me find people to fix the place up, stage my home, recommend the best way to present it. If your home is priced competitively and shows well in this market right now you will most likely get multiple offers over asking price and it will sell quickly. If you are not getting multiple offers you overpriced your home for the condition it is in.
That really is the only strategy or marketing that needs to be done in this market, it is as simple as that.
You would do well to contact a few of us agents who answered your question and work your area as I have said they are some of the best in the area.
Feel free to contact me with any questions.
At your service,
Certified Distressed Property Expert
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 1, 2012

Continuing my answer to your question:

If you want true market reach in Sunnyvale, you need an agent with presence on overseas websites and trusted credentials in the international markets. Again, a very significant number of buyers in Sunnyvale are immigrating from other countries or are bringing family money from overseas. ICREA members who are TRC certified are members of the International Real Estate Community who are in a network where the exchange of money is under enforceable rules the referring sources from overseas can trust. I joined and became TRC certified for the purpose of reaching beyond the local buyer to those overseas able to close quickly with cash. Such buyers feel I am a valuable and trusted ally when they also see my wife's website which is a guide to how to become a naturalized citizen.

Another thing important in an agent is one who understands lending. For the domestic buyer, a mortgage is the rate limiting step in purchase. A realtor with experience as a mortgage banker brings lending problem solving skills and the ability to predict successful closure to the table. The years I spent as a mortgage banker help me immeasurably in getting banks to "yes" and completing transactions.

All the above said, nothing is more important in evaluating an agent than meeting him. Do you click together? Is his communication style to your liking? Does he seem knowledgeable and honest? Is he willing to fully market your home and hold an open house? I look forward to meeting you. Of the other agents who have answered before me, on this thread, I suggest you also interview Terri Velios. I've read many of her Trulia posts and she comes across as intelligent, honest, and knowledgeable.

As to when to sell, prices will continue to go up in Sunnyvale for the next few months at least. LInkedIn, Google, FaceBook, and several other tech firms are in hiring sprees. Sunnyvale, Mountain View, and east Menlo Park are where these people will be working. They'll be well paid and from out of the area. This will push prices up rapidly. The low inventory will continue through the summer as the new re-financing opportunities for underwater homes have pulled home what would have short sold off the market. This will also place a lot of pressure on upward moving prices. You can expect at least 10% maybe even a 20% jump in the price of your home in just a few months if not less.

Let's meet and see if there is anything you should do before you sell to increase your net income from your sale.

Good luck and look forward to enjoying the process,

Mitchell Pearce
Realty World California Homes
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 1, 2012

Yes some agents only charge 5%. Some won't budge below 6%. Whether an agent is going to get you more depends more on his marketing reach and his skills than his commission. That said, greater marketing reach usually entails more overhead for the agent, which justifies a higher commission. Greater negotiating skills, problem solving skills, listening skills, credentials, and knowledge of school systems, private schools, neighborhoods, employment trends, work and public transportation networks of also justify a higher commission. Above all, one question you should ask yourself: If one agent is able to stick to his commission of 6% and the other discounts, which do you think is more likely to successfully not "cave in" on a price point of your home so you get the higher amount? An agent who is unable to justify to you his higher commission is unlikely to have the intestinal fortitude or skills to "up-sell" your house and is very likely to acquiesce to a lower price on your behalf rather than justify to the buyer why your house is worth what it is fully worth. In other words, if he cannot even sell himself to you at full price, how can you expect him to sell your house to someone else at full price?

There is a lot to marketing reach. You can target your home to just the local market buyer looking for a home to live in buyer. Just having the home on the MLS, having open houses, color flyers, clean and presentable home, and a phone that gets answered is more than 50% of what this market takes. The rest is internet presence. Does the realtor and/or the brand he works for have good internet presence? Each company approaches the internet differently. Most companies have their own brand on the internet with their brand specific listings. E.G. Coldwell Banker has their own website. Realty World has its own website and HomeSearch.com. Many now have website syndication arrangements where their listings are syndicated to multiple search engines such as Trulia, Zillow, Redfin, Oodle, Homepad, AOL Real Estate, MyNewPlace, MSN Real Estate, Military.com, Yahoo, and the like. Of all the syndication systems, Realty World Northern California is a true pioneer. To Realty World, the most popular real estate search engines just listed for homes is only the beginning. All Realty World offices in Norther California and Nevada pool their resources and have contracted with Trulia so that their listings rotate through the first page of its search results for any search you create. Try it, you'll always see some Realty World listings on the first page. Realty World has a similar deal with Zillow. In addition, Realty World circulates their listings to over 300 search engines and all major newspaper internet real estate outlets such as the Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, and New York Times. In short, any Realty World agent from any Realty World office in Northern California comes out of the box with greater internet presence than agents from any other company.

Other companies tout their nationwide internal referral program for people moving from one area of the country to the other. Before the internet, this was a truly important facet of market reach. Now it means fairly little, though all companies, including Realty World, maintain this traditional marketing channel because it is very lucrative for the referring agents.

California, being a multi-cultural state, cultural competence outside of the agent's own upbringing is vital. Most buyers in Santa Clara County are not from within the county, and many did not grow up in the U.S. More than 50% of the buyers in Sunnyvale are Asian, with over 40% of those being Chinese. Most are computer engineers or entrepreneurs who will be using the tools mentioned above as their primary method of finding homes. Fully understanding Chinese (and other Asian) culture, the role of elders in decision making and family rearing, the "bank of family", feng shui, and kitchen dynamics is essential to creating the environment that will make them comfortable and call their attention to your home. If they know the agent understands their needs, they will have a higher trust in your agent's answers and information. Understanding the culture is more important than speaking the language. People in bi-cultural marriages or who have lived overseas are far more prepared to negotiate on your behalf in a multi-cultural market such as Sunnyvale. This is not something one picks up in "diversity awareness" class. It took me ten years of interacting with my in-laws plus living in China to get a full appreciation of the nuances of Chinese culture and decision making.

More in my next post.

Mitchell Pearce
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 1, 2012
Jerry those are all very good questions.

1. Commissions are negotiable. You are going to hear a variety of opinions on the value of the agent and the commissions they charge. I recommend you interview the agents so you can understand exactly what it is they are going to do for you.

2.An experienced agent is going to tell you the truth about the market and the value of your home. Our inventory is low right now and when the home is priced properly we are seeing homes sell fast and with multiple offers. We can't predict if that is going to continue. So I would ask what is important to you in the sale and position you for the market to help you achieve that goal.

3. A local popular agent vs one that doesn't do as many sales has it's benefits and negatives as well. See answer number 1.

What I can share with you is experience and risk management, education, negotiation, honesty and more all play a part in the agent representing you. Interview and choose the agent who is going to do the best job for you and don't base it solely on price.

Have an amazing day.
Web Reference: http://www.terrivellios.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 1, 2012
Hi Jerry,

5%-6% commission is a standard of practice in the area. Remember commissions are always negotiable. Ask the agent what they will provide for their commission, they all have different levels of service. The lower the commission, typically the lower the service. Not to say that a 5% agent can't give you the same level of service that a 6% agent, kind of depends on the agent. That being sold I sold a listing in Ponderosa Park neighborhood the first part of the year. On the market Jan 6 sold by the 13th, 7 days laters, 17 offers. What is important is that the agent knows what they are doing, how to market the house and their willingness to stay on top of the details of transaction of which there are too many to count.

Now is a good time to go on the market, however, in the recent weeks more inventory has been coming on the market, While it is still a very hot market, there seems to be a little less urgency in some instances. Ponderosa neighborhood is very desirable and more than likely if priced right, and if the condition of the home is nice you should be able to get multiple offers. Either sell now or asap. The market can change in a heartbeat. The market typically slows down in the summer months july-aug and has a short revival in the fall after labor day. If your house is ready, get her to market quickly.

Call me, I can help you get it on the market quickly.


Melinda Wedemeyer
Keller Williams
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 1, 2012
HI Jerry,

1. There are several factors that nets you the most amount of money, in the shortest amount of time, with the least amount of problems. Whether you pay 5% or 6% so long as you have a good agent that knows these factors you are in good hands

2. There are none or very little inventory in the market today. Means less competition from other homes and more attention from the multitude of buyers who are willing to go crazy to buy a home. When summer comes, a multitude of homes will come on the market bringing a multitude of competition. Given the scenario I would prefer to sell my home when there is less competition from other homes and a multitude of buyers.

3. It makes sense to go with a listing agent who knows how to properly value your home (with a bpo) to maximized your net, prepare your home for sale, market your home for maximum exposure, is experienced with the real estate transaction process and have the exprience to bring your home to the closing table.

Give me a call (408-316-0793) or email (rpablaza@comcast.net) for a (BPO) FREE HOME EVALUATION. Let me show you how your home can sell for the most amount of money, in the shortest amount of time, with the least amount of problems.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 1, 2012
Hi Jerry:

Thanks for asking. Actually, there are a lot of agents who charge less. Because I don't have as much overhead to pay as would others, I can supply the same marketing for my clients, while also charging a commission of only 1.5%. With a 2.5% commission to the buyer's agent, that brings the total to just 4% of the sales price. If your home is $800,000, for example, that's a savings of $8000 from the 5% commission and $16,000 from the 6% commission.

As for the wait now or sell later...definitely sell now. With so few homes on the market, the buyers are "pouncing" on great homes in areas like Ponderosa Park. Later, with more homes on the market, the demand will be sated by the inventory, and that can mean less money for your home in the summer.

Finally, as to your last question, I would say, you want to hire an agent who is knowledgeable about your market and your area. Does this necessarily mean hiring someone who is popular in the area? No, but it does mean having someone represent you who is familiar with, probably lives in, and can speak to the benefits of living in Sunnyvale to potential buyers. So while you don't have to hire the person who seems to be handling all the homes in the area, you should definitely hire the person who knows the market and can work best with you.

If you're ready to work with an agent, give me a call, and I'll be happy to provide you with a free market analysis as well as to provide you with valuable guidance on how best to sell your home.

Good luck!!

Grace Morioka
Area Pro Realty-People's Choice
Tel (408) 426-1616
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 1, 2012
Hi Jerry.

To answer your questions:

1. An agent you are looking for is one that knows the market in that area and one that can navigate you to a successful close.
2. This depends on your current situation.
3. The most important things when selling your home is pricing it right and marketing.

Take a look of the google maps that I create every month for Sunnyvale with new and sold listings http://bayareaconnect.com/01/05/2012/sunnyvale-94085-94086-9… this is how we will price the home right to get you the best price possible.

On marketing I run a blog for home buyers so I will be featuring your home in front of the people that matter, home buyers in the Santa Clara County. I work with Coldwell Banker so you will be put in front of all of our home buyers as well on other sites like Trulia and Zillow to bring in the most buyers.

Jerry lets sit down to discuss your situation and the current market. Give me a call at (408) 840-3852 or shoot me an email at Thomas.Feng@gmail.com
Web Reference: http://BayAreaConnect.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 1, 2012
Hi Jerry,

There are many different factors to consider when choosing an agent and every seller has their own requirements. I would love to talk to you so I can answer your all of your questions, provide you a free market analysis of your home, and let you know how the market is in the Ponderosa area of Sunnyvale. Please contact me at your earliest convenience.

Web Reference: http://www.kendrickkwan.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 1, 2012
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