My commitments to my buyers

I consider myself not a salesperson, but a counselor.  I will be your guardian angel and your devil’s advocate. I will share with you my in-depth knowledge of the East Bay and my expertise gained over 18 years in real estate transactions. My goal is for my clients to be satisfied, informed consumers, who feel that their concerns have been heard, and that they have a trusted advocate. I promise to give you a candid, honest assessment of the market, and of any home you wish to consider, even when that news is not what you might want to hear.  My previous experience includes serving as a career counselor on the U.C. Berkeley Campus. I also served for many years as a Business Manager, and have extensive experience in reviewing and negotiating contracts, and both of those previous careers has served my clients well.

I always begin with a detailed meeting with my buyers. If two people are buying a home together, I want to meet with both people together if at all possible. Even couples who have been married for many years find that buying a home brings up differences in perspective. For most people, purchasing a home is the largest investment they will make, and committing large amounts of money tends to bring up fears, uncertainties, and differences that some couples didn’t know they had. This does not mean that there’s something wrong with the relationship! It’s a perfectly normal reaction to making a major life decision. I consider the emotional aspects of the transaction in addition to the financial and physical aspects.

I always give my buyers an update on the current market—how it is different from a few months ago, and what we might anticipate in the coming months. I endeavor to give them a sense of the differences among neighborhoods in terms of price, amenities and available inventory.

The hardest part is often the “reality check” about what their budget will purchase. I will recommend trusted loan brokers who can review your financial situation and get you pre-approved for a loan. Not surprisingly, many buyers envisage purchasing more house in a better neighborhood than their budget can afford. We will talk about expectations, what features in a home or neighborhood are requirements, and which are on a wish list. Most buyers soon realize that the buying process represents compromises, and I will help them in adjusting expectations as required.

Once my buyers have a sense of the process, and some background on what has actually sold in the price ranges and neighborhoods appropriate to them, then we are ready to look at properties. Many agents start by immediately showing houses without the context I give my buyers. Time and time again I have buyers thank me for giving them an accurate picture of what to expect in advance, saving them time and heartaches!

I walk my buyers through the major forms that they will need to sign once they have identified a home they wish to purchase. I like buyers to have an opportunity to read through a blank contract, and to review the significant types of disclosures when they can review them calmly, without the pressure of having a particular property in mind. Each of the local East Bay cities has regulations specific to that city, and I want my buyers to be aware of those before they make an offer.

Each week I tour extensively, previewing homes that might be of interest to my buyers. I try to respect my buyers’ time, and recognize that most people have a limited capacity to look at homes without getting fatigued. I work hard to limit the properties I show to ones that will provide them useful information about the market, but mostly ones that might actually work for them. But each buyer is different. Some buyers feel the need to preview many homes on their own, and collect much data before making a decision. Other buyers, especially those who live out of the area, need me to dramatically limit the choices they consider. The correct way to proceed is in whatever manner works for the individual buyer!

Once a buyer has identified a home of interest I will gather as much information about it as possible:  requesting a packet of disclosures, asking the background of the sellers leaving, giving buyers any relevant information about the neighborhood and community. I always urge my buyers to visit the neighborhood on different days, and at differing times of day. I encourage them to check crime statistics, and to check on permit records, as appropriate.

When it is time to write  an offer I go through the contract and disclosures with each buyer to be sure they understand what they are signing, and answer any questions. It may take a couple hours to write an offer, but it is crucial that buyers feel they understand the significance of each decision they make. I counsel my buyers about the ways in which they can make their offer the most compelling in this competitive market. As the market changes, I counsel my clients about what items may be negotiable, and how they can best take advantage of those items. I advise clients on the types of investigations they may be able to conduct on the property once in contract, and recommend outstanding professionals to investigate any potential issues.

If at all possible I always elect to present my buyers’ offer in person to the listing agent, as opposed to dropping it off. I thoroughly enjoy presenting offers, and use it as an opportunity to assure the agent and the sellers that if they choose my buyers’ offer the escrow will be conducted professionally. You would be surprised at the vast difference in quality of presentations among agents! I pride myself at making presentations that distinguish my buyers from the rest!

Once the offer is accepted I guide my buyers through inspections and review of all the circumstances surrounding the property. I am their fierce advocate during any negotiations. I also put my counseling hat back on, and serve as a sounding board for the many fears and concerns that normally surface as buyers face this major decision.

My services do not end when I had over the keys to a buyer’s new home. From then on I am available as a resource for the smallest questions to the largest. Whether it’s a question about when to prune the roses, or where to find a good color consultant, or even which are the best Japanese restaurants in their area, I am delighted to provide my clients with information, guidance and a sympathetic ear, whenever they need it.

Arlene Baxter