An Award-Winning Team

March 30th, 2017

Last week, my team and I attended the Keller Williams Bay Area Estates awards show. It was a lovely evening, full of great people in a beautiful setting. It was a successful evening, too!

Team Award 1

Yes, that’s me, holding my 2016 award for being one of the top producers in the office. It was an absolute honor and delight to receive this award! It also helps put things into perspective after a very remarkable year in real estate.

Real estate is like any other market: it has its ups and its downs. Fluctuations are inherent…one must be cognizant of them, and roll with them either way. As such, in weighing one’s progress, an agent must take a more holistic view of their business.

In this past year, my business has taken a huge step forward as I have assembled my real estate team. Month by month, I have recruited some truly incredible agents to work alongside me and build our collective business. The night of the awards was a chance for us all to get together and celebrate our partnership. I am so very grateful to work with such a phenomenal group of people, and I look forward to seeing how our combined efforts propel us to new heights!

Elena Johal Team

Market Update

In other news, home prices in the Bay Area continue to rise as inventory creeps lower and lower. This has created what is effectively the very definition of a seller’s market, as a multitude of buyers compete for the few homes on the market. Home values are reaching unprecedented heights as desperate buyers offer well above asking price in order to secure their dream home.  How this will play out in the long term is uncertain, but one thing is abundantly clear: if you’ve been thinking about selling, there has never been a better time than NOW!

This week served as a reminder of how much I love my job and the talented agents I work with…and we’re always thrilled to share that love. Whatever your real estate needs, contact me and my team and let us put our award-winning skills to work for you!

Award

New Season, New Listings

March 23rd, 2017

Well, it’s official: Spring is here! After a wet winter, it’s a welcome relief to see blue skies (albeit amidst some gray ones) and warmer temperatures. Fittingly enough, I’ve been able to do some spring cleaning of sorts lately. My listings from the winter are currently all either in contract or have closed escrow. With the seasonal shift, I’m facing a new beginning. Fortunately, this new season brings with it new listings! I’d like to highlight two new listings of mine that have come on the market in the past week, just in time for spring.

4479 Park Bristol Place, San Jose 95136

Spring Listings 1

This beautiful five bedroom, three bath home is a Blossom Valley dream come true! This highly desirable open floor plan model comes complete with a downstairs guest suite and a large upstairs master bedroom suite. Located on a quiet cul-de-sac, the home features a gourmet kitchen with gleaming granite countertops, a large garden window, newer appliances, a pantry and an open view of the dining and family rooms. Additionally, the house is freshly painted and newly remodeled with designer carpeting, amazing lighting fixtures, marble tiles and simply HUGE rooms providing plenty of space for you and your family! Dual pane windows throughout allow for ample amounts of soothing natural light.

Spring Listings 2

Outside, the sizable backyard boasts a patio, fruit trees, gardening, herb area and room for a pool, play structure and more! The sizable three-car attached garage offers room for parking and storage. The location is superb as well, within a peaceful neighborhood and walking distance from grocery stores, public transportation, great elementary school, tennis courts, playground, Hayes Mansion Park, and the library. Conveniently a few minutes away from highways 101, 87, and 85, this home is ideal for any commuter as well!

Spring Listings 3

Listed at $999,998. Here is a link to the property website for more photos and information: 4479 Park Bristol Place.

430 Canopy Court, Gilroy 95020

Spring Listings 4

A sensational Gilroy home awaits you! This one-of-a-kind property is located on a cul-de-sac and is newly remodeled. Its open floor plan and high ceilings lend it a relaxing, airy feel. Other fantastic upgrades include brand new gleaming laminate flooring, new carpet, fresh designer paint, new lighting and so much more! A large open kitchen with a breakfast bar is the perfect place to prepare a meal, and the large dining room area is the perfect place to enjoy it. The family room, with its beautiful fireplace, lends itself to recreation. All the bedrooms are quite spacious and capable of accommodating a nice size bed, a desk and more.

Spring Listings 5

The home’s luxurious master suite has high ceilings, a walk-in closet, and a full bath complete with his and hers sinks, shower and an inviting tub. The laundry room is conveniently located upstairs, near all the bedrooms. Walk out to the huge backyard, which provides plenty of room to entertain, play or have a nice outdoor dinner on the large patio covered by a trellis and surrounded by mature trees. Finally, the close proximity to the local park, tennis courts, playground, large grass field and trails and walking distance to shopping and restaurants make the location highly desirable.

Spring Listings 6

Listed at $720,000. Here is a link to the property website for more photos and information: 430 Canopy Court.

Thanks for taking a look at this two great listings with me! If you or anyone you know is interested in more information or a private showing of either property, contact me at ejohal@kw.com. Until next time, enjoy your spring, everyone!

Overcoming the Annoyances of Homeownership

March 9th, 2017

Homeownership is often said to be one of the fundamental elements of the American dream. Certain unpleasant realities of homeownership, however, often get glossed over when this dream is discussed. This article regarding the most annoying things about owning a home is a great introduction to these realities. Though they’re not as attractive as the positive aspects of buying a home, it is crucial to be aware of these annoyances.

The Annoyances of Homeownership

What Are These Annoyances?

The article linked above discusses seven annoying aspects of homeownership. Though there are certainly even more than that, acknowledging these is crucial. They generally fall into two camps:

1. Pre-Close Problems

These include difficulties accessing a property and the financial clampdown induced by the often immense cost of buying a home. They certainly tend to add to the stress of a home purchase, and can actually cause buyers to get cold feet or back out of the deal in extreme cases. Hence, they are deceptively dangerous to the transaction.

2. Post-Close Problems

These include the unforeseen, unfortunate or even downright nasty things that sellers can leave behind once they’ve left a home. Also of note are elements of the home that are less attractive, stable or user-friendly as they might have seemed at first glance. Taken together, these can definitely instill a sense of buyer’s remorse in affected buyers.

So what can be done about all these things? Well, awareness is always a good first step. Just by acknowledging these issues, one can begin to deal with them in small ways. If you’re in the process of selling a home, being cognizant of these things and helping the buyer deal with them or minimize their impact is a great way to keep a transaction smooth and prevent cold feet. The buyer is already going through a lot, and they will no doubt appreciate your help in minimizing their additional stress.

And if you are the buyer? Then this really highlights the importance of hiring the right agent. It is vital to have an agent that helps raise your awareness of these issues ahead of time, and address them as necessary. Just a bit of planning and preparation can drastically reduce the impact of the annoyances mentioned above. A good real estate agent can help make your home buying experience the joyous one it should ideally be.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at the less enjoyable aspects of homeownership. Naturally, you shouldn’t let them dull your enthusiasm for buying a home; in fact, just the fact that you now know about them and can deal with them accordingly should make you feel even better! As always, feel free to use me as a resource for any questions or concerns you may have about real estate. Though no real estate transaction is without headaches, I’m always happy to be my clients’ Excedrin!

First-Time Homebuyers in the Bay Area

March 2nd, 2017

If you’re a prospective first-time homebuyer in the Bay Area, or you know someone that fits that description, you likely won’t be surprised by a recent report that says California is the most challenging state for first-time homebuyers. Demand for housing is at a fever pitch and supply is notably low. Younger people looking to finally make their dreams of homeownership a reality are facing an uphill battle. This can be extremely frustrating to those who have worked hard, saved and planned, yet still can’t quite get there. I’ve written about this sort of thing before, but this newest study confirms how difficult things are in the Golden State.

First-Time Homebuyers are feeling the pinch in California

What Is Going On?

A number of factors contribute to this squeeze on first-time home buyers. In addition to the normal supply and demand issues I mentioned above, increasing mortgage rates are forcing buyers to tighten their budgets and look to somewhat cheaper homes than they may have considered previously…including those homes that would most appeal to the budget of a first-time home buyer. Now the demand for homes is being more heavily concentrated in certain price ranges, exacerbating the problem for all homebuyers, particularly those with the least resources. I’ll give you one guess which group that is.

Speaking of limited resources, it is becoming more and more difficult to obtain financing for a home, with higher rates for those who do qualify. We’ve seen this happening for months now, and there’s no end in sight. And the problem with THIS is that in California, particularly in areas like Silicon Valley, there are a relatively miniscule amount of what could be considered “cheap” homes. Due to a variety of factors, homes here are genrally just expensive. It’s no coincidence that the most difficult state for first-time home buyers also happens to contain many of the most expensive real estate markets in the country. It can take years (decades, even) to work one’s way up to the level of income necessary to afford even a lower-end home, and tighter financing requirements coupled with higher monthly mortgage payments can make even that seem out of reach.

There are other elements at play here as well, which the article I linked at the beginning touches upon. Different generational spending habits, high rents, and the difficulty obtaining the funds to make a down payment are among the other problematic elements for younger homebuyers. Taken together, it almost seems that those seeking starter homes might have to give up on their California dreaming entirely. But that’s not necessarily the case.

So What Can a First-Time Homebuyer Do?

If you’re a first-time homebuyer like those I’ve mentioned above, my advice to you would be: don’t despair! Yes, the situation may be frustrating, but that doesn’t mean you should give up. All it means is that you should seek the services of an experienced realtor with a wealth of local knowledge and connections. Might I humbly suggest myself and my team for the task?

The reality of the situation is this: no, it won’t be easy. Few things worth doing are, as the saying goes. But there’s a huge difference between “not easy” and “impossible.” And, as another saying goes, it’s all about who you know.

Specifically, a good real estate agent should have a huge network of clients, prospects and other agents, all working together for a common goal: getting people into the homes they want to be in. So it stands to reason that these agents will be the best equipped to discover a good deal on the right situation for a client of theirs, even a first-time homebuyer. In addition, the agent’s experience and knowledge can help guide a client through the process of discovering exactly what they can afford and tailor their search accordingly. Overall, we may live in the most difficult state for first-time homebuyers, but the proper professional guidance can still make the dream of homeownership a reality for a new generation.

If you or anyone you know are looking to take the first step into the world of homeownership, I am always available as a resource. It’s a pleasure to help people in these situations realize that their seemingly impossible goal is not only possible but achievable with some smart planning and the proper guidance.

 

Expansion

February 23rd, 2017

We’re just about two months into 2017, and in the Bay Area, it’s been raining incessantly the entire time. Considering the massive drought California has been enduring for years now, the rain is a welcome change of pace, but at this point, the ground is oversaturated, rivers and reservoirs are overflowing, and the pendulum of water has swung from “not enough” to “too much.” On the other hand, spring is right around the corner, and the warming weather and ample rains guarantee one thing this year: growth. Fortunately, the recent expansion of my team has mirrored this phenomenon. Just as spring blossoms with soon mark the passage of the seasons, my team-building efforts are coming to fruition.

For example, a wonderful agent by the name of Kristina Kesovija recently joined the team. Kristina is a joy to work with and a valuable addition to our squad.

Kristina, the force behind our latest expansion

One exciting aspect of working with Kristina is the possibility of expanding our collective business. For example, right now we’re co-listing a great condo together: 3 Merritt Avenue in Oakland, CA.

3 Merritt Ave Oakland CA 94609-large-001-2-Front-1500x1000-72dpi                                3 Merritt Ave Oakland CA 94609-large-003-3-Living Room View-1500x1000-72dpi

Now, Oakland is quite a drive from my home base in the South Bay, so while I love doing business out there, the journey is so time-consuming that it’s not always feasible to do by myself. But now, with the expansion of my team to include Kristina, I don’t have to do it by myself. I have a wonderful agent who can act as my support system and makes sure the listing gets the attention it deserves despite its distance from our office.

This is the case with all the agents on my team. We work together to achieve greater results than we could ever achieve alone, and our collective business flourishes as a result. We have a higher capacity for listings than ever, while maintaining our exacting standards of quality and care with each.

In addition, working as a team allows us to all benefit from the same marketing and techniques. For example, if I have three open houses scheduled for the same time, I can’t possibly cover all of them. With my team, the open houses I cannot attend personally are getting covered by people I not only know and trust, but that I work closely with. We are all on the same page in terms of the aspects of the home to highlight, in-depth insight into its status and qualities, and a proper, consistent approach to market it. We are able to present a unified message across our entire team regardless of who is present.

This is not to say that I have any desire to be an absentee agent.  I have a very personal investment in real estate; it is my passion, and it is extremely important to me that I am present and involved in each of my listings. But I’m also one person, only capable of existing in a single space at one time, and the ability to have multiple people with the same vision under the same umbrella in multiple places at once immensely increases my efficiency. And with increased efficiency comes expansion.

The Elena Johal team continues to grow, and I have no doubt the best is yet to come. Thank you for joining me along this journey and allowing me to share my thoughts with you.

Loving Where You Live

February 9th, 2017

Oftentimes in real estate, we get so swept up in thinking about each individual home that we forget about the bigger picture. But a key component to a successful real estate transaction is ensuring the happiness of each homebuyer, and this happiness is in large part predicated on one thing: the importance of loving where you live. And I don’t just mean loving your home, I mean loving your environment.

Loving Where You Live

What brings this to mind is an article I read today which notes that San Jose is the third-best place to live in the United States. The jobs, the lifestyle, the weather, the income…so many factors work together to make San Jose one of the best cities one could ever choose to live in. Which, of course, goes a long way to explain the high cost of living here…but when it comes to your happiness, isn’t it worth it to splurge?

Just as an example, let’s say you have an amazing job with a great company that you hope to continue working for until retirement. Now let’s say you’re considering buying a home, and you have a couple in mind that you’ve looked at with your Realtor. Naturally, the quality and comfort of the home will be a huge consideration, but what about the bigger picture? If the commute to and from work is significantly different between the two location, how will the longer commute affect you in the long run? How many hours will you sit in slowly crawling traffic until the quality of your life starts to suffer?

These are the sort of questions one must ask themselves when considering a move. A lengthy commute may seem tolerable in the abstract, but if a few months or years down the line you begin to dread it, it can affect the quality of your life in ways that money just can’t cover. The same goes for proximity to family and friends, or entertainment; if you’re too far away from the people and places that bring you joy, a sense of sadness or isolation can creep in. You may have a hard time loving where you live, no matter how great a deal you got on it.

In the end, each individual must decide how much weight to give each aspect of home buying in order to make a decision, but it would be wise to get to know a neighborhood before making a final decision on which home to buy. If you find an area that you fall in love with, it might make you happier in the long run to get a home that requires a bit more work or has a somewhat heftier price tag than some of the other options. Money is a crucial concern, but loving where you live can be absolutely priceless.

Remember, I’m always available as a resource to help you determine what would make you happiest. Email me at ejohal@kw.com and let’s work together to find the combination of factors that will help you love where you live!

Thinking of Buying a Home? Time to Get Serious.

January 26th, 2017

I’ve spoken a lot in recent weeks about how numerous factors are indicating we could be right in the middle of prime home-buying time. As we close out the first month of 2017, the indicators that this is the case are getting stronger and stronger. If you’ve been thinking about buying a home, it may be time to get serious and start figuring out a specific plan.

The Dream of Buying

This recent article outlines several reasons why you should consider buying a home before the year’s end. We’ve discussed many of them before: interest rates are on the rise, and increasing monthly mortgage payments are coming along with them. Locking in a rate on a mortgage now could save countless dollars over time.

Inventory is miniscule. We’re simply not seeing a lot of homes for sale on the market right now, which means high demand and increased competition are driving prices through the roof. Yet the problem is likely to get worse before it gets better, and if these patterns hold, by next year the current inventory could look massive by comparison.

Finally, prices are continuing to rise with no end in sight. As such, now is looking more and more to be the ideal time to act if you have any plans of homeownership in the foreseeable future. Buying now is certainly expensive due to the factors outlined above…but it’s likely to get even more so. In many cases, it’s best just to bite the bullet and lock in a price now.

The initial article I linked to notes that all of these elements working together have created an air of uncertainty. The future of real estate is harder to guess right now than it has been in a while, and the fear that comes from uncertainty can at times paralyze people or entice them to make poor decisions.

There is, however, one thing you can be certain about: you need a place to live. And homeownership remains the best way to do so, with all the security and equity renting simply doesn’t offer. If the biggest cloud on the horizon is this looming sense of uncertainty, the best way to combat it is to act quickly and decisively to secure things in the calm before the storm.

Thanks for reading, and remember: I’m always available as a resource! Home buying can be quite scary and intimidating, so feel free to reach out to me and my team for the knowledge and support you need to make the right decisions.

A Word on Renting Vs. Buying

January 19th, 2017

Renting or owning...which is right for you?

Recently, the San Jose Mercury News published an intriguing article comparing the costs of renting a home versus buying one. Basically, the results were as follows: in the Bay Area’s current market, we find ourselves in the interesting position of renting ostensibly being cheaper than buying. As anyone living in the area knows, neither option is exactly what one would consider cheap, but this study prompts the question…

If you’re considering buying a home, are you better off renting instead?

Though at a surface level the article would suggest that the answer to this question is “yes,” a closer examination reveals that things are not so simple. For one thing, the study only takes into account raw numbers on a pretty large scale. Individual cities and neighborhoods can vary pretty wildly in housing costs, and what is true for one area may not be applicable to another just a few miles up the road. A detailed analysis of each specific area one may be considering a move into is necessary to truly weigh the relative costs.

In addition, there’s the issue of immediacy versus long-term security. Sure, right now renting may make the most sense economically, but it’s a constantly shifting balance that may be quite different in the future. Meanwhile, mortgage rates are still at a relative low, though they are showing signs of trending upwards. Locking in a mortgage rate now will allow you to plan out the next several decades of housing costs, while still taking advantage of low rates, whereas renting poses a much greater risk…you may be able to assume your rent for the next few months or years, but what about years from now? The security of having a guaranteed mortgage rate can offset short-term savings.

That’s not even to mention the massive benefits of homeownership in the first place (you’re never going to have equity in a rental), nor the relative quality of rental dwellings versus homes listed for sale, or the security of living within a certain school district for those with children. It’s a complex issue, and not so cut and dry as one might think. Still, the study is a very valuable one, and presents some interesting data for anyone looking to weigh their housing options.

In the end, there is really no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of renting versus buying. Each individual must take stock of their own situation and goals in order to decide which is truly the best option for them. Fortunately, my team and I are always here to provide advice for any prospective home buyers weighing their options, so don’t be afraid to consult with me to decide what is truly the best course of action for you!

Taking Stock of Inventory

January 12th, 2017

Less than a dozen days into 2017, one thing has already become quite clear: we are in a very interesting real estate market. Among the numerous factors influencing things, one has become a huge topic of conversation lately: inventory. Specifically, the inventory of homes actively for sale in the Bay Area, which is currently historically low. This is having a profound effect on the market, which I would like to discuss a bit today.

Low Housing Inventory

Last month, I talked about how rising interest rates were already creating a sense of urgency in real estate sales. Recently, this urgency has hit a fever pitch in the Bay Area for one simple reason: there’s hardly anything on the market! As of the time of this writing, there are, for example, 15 active listings in Apple’s hometown of Cupertino, 14 homes for sale in the city of Campbell, 17 in Sunnyvale, and so forth. These numbers are crazy low, but to get a glimpse of the bigger picture, consider this: there are only about 700 active listings in all of Santa Clara county! Think about it: the heart of Silicon Valley, one of the most desirable places to live in the country, has only 718 homes for sale divided among its 1,304 square miles of area. It boggles the mind.

As you can imagine, this low inventory is creating a very favorable situation for Sellers, who are in the very advantageous position of being able to dictate supply in the face of overwhelming demand. Add to this the fact that many Buyers are scrambling to procure a home before mortgage rates climb even further, and you get the sort of rabid demand that can create truly incredible scenarios. As an extreme example, I’ve heard tales of a recent listing in Santa Clara that sold after a mindblowing 56 offers! This is the sort of situation that would be nearly impossible in most normal markets. But we are far past normal at this point.

So what is to be done?

Well, if you’re a Seller…sell! Or at least strongly consider it. Inventory simply cannot stay this low forever, especially with home prices peaking as a result of desperate bidding wars and giving homeowners a push to finally test the market for their own home. The sooner you act,the sooner you can take advantage of the current abundant demand, before a glut of new listings cools things down somewhat.

For Buyers, all hope is not lost. Patience is advised, since like I said, more listings are inevitably on the way. But if you cannot afford to be patient, or if you want to ensure you take advantage of the currently low mortgage rates, don’t despair. There are still deals to be had out there…you just need to be especially vigilant, thorough, and employ the services of a dedicated real estate agent who can work hard to sniff out some deals for you.

As always, I’m available to advise you on the best course of action for you amid this crazy market, and please don’t hesitate to call me to set up a free consultation. Being informed by an expert like me is the best way to navigate these unique situations, prepare for the future, and make this market work to your advantage. Whether buying or selling, having the information to stay one step ahead can pay massive dividends!

New Year, New Opportunities

January 5th, 2017

Happy New Year! I hope your 2017 is off to a great start. It’s always lovely to have a fresh new beginning, a chance to wipe the slate clean and start from scratch, aiming to achieve greater heights than ever before. And, in the spirit of new beginnings, I am launching something special that I would love you to be a part of.

As of 2017, I am starting Elena Johal’s REAL ESTATE AMBASSADOR program, and I would like to know if you are interested in participating. What is this program, exactly? I’m glad you asked!

GET WITH THE (AMBASSADOR) PROGRAM

New Year, New Opportunities

The REAL ESTATE AMBASSADOR program is referral-based, easy and fun!

The possibilities are endless and enticing. Imagine going to your favorite restaurant with your friends and paying for your meal with my gift card, or going shopping at the store of your choice at a deep discount. This can all be possible just by becoming my marketing assistant and utilizing this Ambassador program as a fun, easy new income avenue for you.

Real Estate is my passion, and I love changing peoples’ lives and helping them enjoy their new home! This program is the natural extension of that, allowing us all to work together for our mutual benefit. Become a part of my REAL ESTATE AMBASSADOR program and see what wonderful things we can accomplish together!

If this sounds good to you, email me at ejohal@kw.com and let’s talk in more detail about how you can be a part of the program. I look forward to hearing from you and kicking off the new year with new opportunities!

In real estate market news, the numbers are in for November, and home sales jumped in the Bay Area. I’m eagerly awaiting seeing the statistics for December, and analyzing the patterns leading us into the year ahead. The new year is always an exciting time, and it looks to present opportunities for both buyers and sellers who keep their finger on the pulse of the market and heed the advice of real estate professionals…like me!

As always, thanks for reading, and let’s work together to make 2017 the best year yet!