Real Estate Trade Secrets

Real Estate News and Tips for Buying and Selling Real Estate in the San Francisco Bay Area

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San Francisco Real Estate: KTVU Interview With Real Estate Consultant, Pete Sabine, and Ross McGowan – #2 in a series

February 15th, 2011 · 5 Comments

During this 4 minute interview,  Ross McGowan poses questions of Bay Area Real Estate Consultant, Pete Sabine.  Topics covered include: the Bay Area real estate market as compared to the national market,  jumbo loans and their limitations in the San Francisco Bay Area, the recent interest rate cut by the Fed and it’s probable impact on the real estate market, and finally advice given by Pete Sabine to buyers and sellers of real estate in the Bay Area.

Click on the photo to view this interview on YouTube.



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Investment Property: Is your investment property keeping you from doing the things you love?

February 15th, 2011 · No Comments

Are you looking for an opportunity to defer capital gains tax and retire from managing your income property? Many income property owners are comfortable with real estate investments and have had good returns in the past, but they do not like the daily management headaches that accompany property management. If so, discover the benefits of a 1031 tax deferred exchange and the tenant-in-common exit strategy.


Internal Revenue code section 1031 provides an excellent strategy for the deferral of capital gain, which would ordinarily arise from the sale of income real estate. Exchanging defers the tax, leaving the property owner with substantially more proceeds with which to purchase a replacement property, gain greater leverage, diversification, improved net cash flow, geographic relocation or property consolidation.


A 1031 exchange is a three-way transaction in which an intermediary is used to facilitate the transaction. The exchange allows the investment property owner to exchange their management-intensive property for professionally managed real estate with the potential to generate steady income tax benefits and appreciation.

When the exchange is complete, you will own a tenant-in-common interest in one or more quality income properties. Your income from the replacement property will likely be higher than you were receiving from your relinquished property.


Some of the benefits from this solution include:

  • Increase your depreciation tax credits

  • Increase your net asset value and invest in high quality multi-unit apartment properties with possibly no cash out of pocket

  • Capture profits from highly appreciated real estate and take advantage of other markets with strong upside potential

  • Reduce or eliminate your property management duties

  • Consolidate or diversify your real estate portfolio

  • Simplify your estate planning while paying no tax

  • Maintain or increase your monthly net cash flow income

How does it work? The basic steps are:

  1. Determine the current market value of your property
  2. List and market your property for sale

  3. Facilitate the sale through a qualified intermediary

  4. Assure proper contract and escrow language

  5. Meet the 45 day deadline to identify the replacement property

  6. Transfer sale proceeds to the qualified intermediary

  7. Open the acquisition property escrow

  8. Complete the exchange within 180 days of close of escrow of your relinquished property

The end result is relief from your real estate management burden while you enjoy more free time as well as the income and capital appreciation from your investment.


Call Pete Sabine at 925.407.0606 for a consultation or visit

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Real Estate Tip: Mastering Your Next Move

February 9th, 2011 · No Comments

Spread moving day over several weeks to avoid the hassles of a last-minute scramble  

5 Weeks Before The Move

  • Take an objective look at what you own, and decide what can be left behind.  Extra weight  on the moving van costs more.
  • Draw a floor plan of your new home, and consider where you’ll want to place the furniture. Mark and label specific pieces of furniture on your diagram.  If a piece of furniture won’t fit, don’t take it with you.
  • Make any personal travel arrangements—flights, hotels, rental cars—for your trip.
  • Organize a garage sale if you have items worth selling.
  • The mover will do all he can to make your move as smooth as possible.  Ask for estimates to include the option of having the company pack some or all of your belongings.  While the mover is liable for breakage to any items it packs, you’re responsible for damage to items you have boxed.
  • Start a central file for all the details of your move. Collect all receipts for moving-related expenses.  Depending on the reason for your move, you may be entitled to a tax deduction.  

4 Weeks Before The Move

  • Select your mover and discuss dates and costs.
  • Decide now whether you want to pack your things or hire the mover to do it.
  • Start gathering boxes if you decide to pack.  Your mover can provide boxes best suited for moving, including special containers for clothing on hangers, lampshades, and dishes.  

3 Weeks Before The Move

  • Notify the post office, magazines, credit card companies, friends, and family of your change of address.  The U.S. Postal Service offers a kit to make this process easier.
  • Call utilities to schedule disconnection on the day following your move.
  • Talk with your mover to schedule, a few days before your move, disconnection and service of the major appliances being moved.
  • Arrange for utilities and services needed at your new home.
  • Start your self-packing with seldom-used items: fancy dishes, specialty cookware, non-essential clothing, curios, decorative items. 

2 Weeks Before The Move

  • Decide what you will discard.
  • Start your serious self-packing.  Label contents of all boxes.
  • Arrange to clean your new home as close to before your move-in as possible.
  • Arrange for copies of school and medical records and make bank safe-deposit arrangements in your new town.
  • Hold a garage sale.  

1 or 2 Days Before The Move

  • Expect movers to arrive to start the packing process.
  • Empty and defrost refrigerator and freezer; clean both with disinfectant and let them air out.  Put baking soda inside to keep them fresh.
  • Empty your safe-deposit box.  Plan to take important papers, jewelry, cherished family photos, irreplaceable mementos and vital computer files with you.
  • Arrange for payment to the moving company.  Write directions to your new home for the van operator, provide the new phone number and include numbers where you can be reached  in transit.
  • Leave your forwarding address and phone number for your new home’s occupants.  

Moving Day

  • Remove blankets and pillows from beds and pack in an “open first” box.
  • Review all details and paperwork when movers arrive.  Accompany van operator to take inventory.  Verify delivery plans.
  • Leave electric garage door opener and all the spare keys for new residents. 

While moving is one of life’s most stressful events, proper planning and preparation can ease the way. Call us to help you orchestrate a smooth move into your new home. 

For a consultation, contact Pete Sabine (925) 407-0606 or visit 

RE/MAX CC Connection

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Move Up Buyer: How to Buy Another Home Without Selling Your Current Home First

January 31st, 2011 · 1 Comment

Avoid the inconvenience and added expense of moving into a rental home in between selling your current home and buying another suitable property. Now move-up buyers can find relief with an affordable and flexible financing strategy. By obtaining an equity line of credit secured by your current home, you can position yourself to find the right home without the worry of not having enough time to sell your home and find another. This financing strategy for your down payment offers many advantages such as a loan fee of no more than $1,000, borrow up to 90% of the value of your current home, pay no interest until you use the loan to finance the down payment of your new home, pay off the loan from the proceeds of the sale of your current home plus this loan is available to borrowers with a less-than-perfect credit history. 

Follow these key steps to find out if this strategy will work for you: 

  • Contact a local real estate professional to assist you with determining the current fair market value of your home. Your Realtor will provide a comparative market analysis (CMA) of recent sales of similar homes in your neighborhood.

  • Subtract the existing loan amount from the current value of your home to determine your equity. Most banks will allow an equity line of credit up to 90% of the appraised value behind your existing loan.

  • Apply for the equity line of credit

  • Apply for a new loan for the purchase of your next home.

Once the loans are approved for the equity line of credit and the new loan for the purchase of your next home, add the sum total of the two loans to determine your top purchase price range. Now you are ready to begin the home search and when you find the right home, your purchase offer will not need the contingency to sell your current home as a condition of completing the sale of the new home. Once your offer has been accepted by the seller and you are confident that you want to complete the sale, list your current home for sale to minimize the time period of owning one home too many.  The equity line of credit secured against your current home is paid off at the close of escrow as well as the existing first loan. This strategy gives you the peace of mind to take your time to find the right home and the confidence that your financing is pre-approved when you need it. 

Call Pete Sabine (925) 407-0606 for a consultation or visit    

RE/MAX CC Connection

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List Your Home: Seven Questions You Must Ask a Realtor

January 26th, 2011 · No Comments

Seven Questions You Must Ask a Realtor Before You List Your Home 

Many home sellers make the critical mistake of thinking all Realtors are the same. Start by doing a few hours of research.  Ask around… who’s the most active agent?  Compile a list of agent names and use these questions to help you determine which agent is right for you.                                                

1.  Could you send me some information about yourself? – You can often get a good idea of    which agents are the most professional by looking at their promotional materials.  If their own  materials aren’t professional, how well are they going to market your home?                                             

2.      How long have you been in business?- There is no substitute for experience. An agent with years of experience selling hundreds of homes can handle just about any unique challenge. An experienced agent knows when the market is changing and will provide you with effective options. 

3.      Do you have an assistant or support staff? – By employing someone to handle the details of their business the agent can spend more time servicing your needs.  It may be fine if the assistant does most of the behind-the-scenes work as long as the agent is there at the most critical times of the transaction period.           

4.      How do you use technology to sell my home? –Most of the top agents have a web site to develop a pipeline of prospective buyers for their listings. E-mail marketing has evolved into one of the most effective and efficient advertising tools available. Ask the agent to send you an email with samples of their e-marketing plan. Visit the agent’s web site to find out how they attract potential buyers for your home. 

5.      What listing price do you recommend ? – Take great care in choosing an agent with the knowledge to price your home effectively.  Keep in mind the selling price should attract prospective buyers to your home, get you top dollar in the current market and reflect the condition of your home.  Do not base your decision to list with the agent who quotes the highest price. Some agents will “buy” your listing only to harass you to lower the price after the agent has secured the listing..                                   

 6.      What disclosure laws apply to me? – Make sure your agent helps you with locating professional inspectors for the various mandatory home inspections required in your area.  Create a file including a property transfer disclosure statement, pest control report, applicable C.C.& R’s , applicable hazard zones report, plans for alterations or additions and building permits. 

7.      What types of things separate you from your competition and will you give me some feedback? – How effectively will they advertise?  Do they have 24-hour advertising capability?  How will you follow up on the leads for my home and how often will I hear from you? Agents who are innovative and offer new methods of attracting homebuyers will measurably outperform agents who rely on methods of the past.  Make sure the agent offers a listing cancellation agreement that allows you to cancel the listing prior to the expiration date if your are not satisfied with the agent’s performance. 

For a consultation, call Pete Sabine at 925-407-0606.

RE/MAX CC Connection

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Move Up Buyer: Six Insider Secrets to Avoid Trade-Up Mistakes

January 24th, 2011 · No Comments

Making a local move usually means selling one home and buying another. The secret to making it all come together is coordination. Take a moment to review the six insider secrets to a successful move.

  1. Get all the facts early: Determine a realistic fair market value for your current home. Find out how much equity you have to add to the new loan required to buy your next home. Get pre-approved by a reputable lender and choose the best financing program to meet your needs. By doing so, you can determine an affordable price range in which to shop for your next home.
  2. Make a game plan: Make a list of repairs and cosmetic improvements for your current home that will maximize your potential sales price and eliminate delays and surprises during escrow. Complete these improvements before putting your home on the market. Meet with a Realtor to form an aggressive marketing plan to sell your home for the best possible price in a reasonable amount of time.
  3. Sell first: This is the most conventional way to make a trade up to your new home. You are not pressured to accept a below-market value offer just to meet a purchase deadline. In many cases, the Buyer will accommodate the Seller’s need for adequate time to find another home to buy with an option to rent the Seller’s current home from the Buyer past the close of escrow date.
  4. Keep a lookout: Learn the real estate market and stay on top of the inventory of available homes for sale while you are preparing your home to sell and waiting for an acceptable purchase offer. Visit open houses to discover neighborhoods and become familiar with current real estate values. Use time saving technology such as the internet (visit to search the Multiple Listing Service in real time. Sign up for a free automatic e-mail listing notification service to have new listings sent directly to your e-mail address that meet your search criteria.
  5. Be flexible: If you buy before you sell you may need to arrange “bridge financing” secured against the equity in your current home. Set up an equity line of credit for the down payment and closing cost on your next home. The advantages of buying first and selling second include the peace of mind knowing that you found the right home without letting go of your current home first, eliminate the anxiety of moving into temporary housing because you ran out of time to find a suitable new home plus the competitive advantage of making your purchase offer “non-contingent” on the sale of your current home.
  6. Coordinate closings: Our experience shows our clients enjoy the smoothest local moves when we work on both the sale and the purchase. There may be 15 to 30 entities involved in the transactions-appraisers, lenders, inspectors, escrow officers, etc. Direct communication is critical to synchronize your next move. The fewer people involved, the more efficient the process. 

Call Pete Sabine (925) 407-0606 for a free consultation.

RE/MAX C.C. Connection.


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Sell Your Home: How to Avoid the 7 Mistakes That Could Cost You Thousands of Dollars in the Sale of Your Home

January 19th, 2011 · No Comments

 When you sell your home, the difference between a smooth and profitable transaction and a break even, miserable experience is often a fine line. By utilizing the trade secrets of a qualified real estate professional, you’ll ensure the quick, profitable sale of your home. If you are not completely prepared you could end up losing valuable time and thousands of dollars in profits. 

Refusing to Make Profit Inducing Repairs and Cosmetic Changes

It can cost you more money to sell “as-is” than to make repairs that will increase the value of your home. Even minor cosmetic improvements will often yield as much as two to three times the improvement or repair cost at the time of sale. The homebuyer’s first impression is critical to net the highest return on the sale of your home.

Provide Easy Access for Showings

The more accessible your home is, the better the odds of finding a buyer willing to pay your asking price. Appointment-only showings are the most restrictive, while lock box access is the least. Accessibility is the key to profitability.

Priced Too Low/Priced Too High

If the property is priced too low it could cost you considerable profits. If it’s priced too high it will sit and develop the identity of a problem property. The real estate market is constantly changing. Your pricing strategy should be re-evaluated by your Realtor every 14 to 21 days to help you maximize your return.

Relying Solely on Traditional Methods To Sell Your Home

Around the clock advertising exposure, innovative lead generation methods and lead accountability services exist and should be included in the marketing and sale of your home. The Realtor who is innovative and willing to offer new strategies of attracting homebuyers will always outperform agents who rely on traditional methods.

Market Timing/Seasonal Selling

Pricing your home effectively is in direct co-relation to market conditions and supply/demand dynamics. A professional real estate agent continually follows the trends of your local real estate market to know when the market cycle is poised to net you the most money in the sale of your home.


Wasting Time With An Unqualified Prospect

Be sure to align yourself with a professional and experienced Realtor to eliminate negotiating with unqualified prospects. An experienced Realtor knows how to screen a prospect’s qualifications before valuable marketing time is lost.

Believing All Realtors are the Same

Your home sale is a time consuming, effort related and often complex task. Rely on an experienced top producing Realtor instead of a friend or family member to handle the intricate details and critical decisions to be made concerning your home sale. Many friends and family have been estranged as a result of failing to meet expectations.


To discover more profitable real estate trade secrets, call Pete Sabine (925) 407-0606 or log onto


RE/ MAX C.C. Connection.

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May 16th, 2008 · No Comments



Pete Sabine

Real Estate Consultant

J. Rockcliff Realtors

Direct (925) 385-2340

Fax (925) 871-5044


Co-author of "Get The Best Deal When Selling Your =
– San Francisco =
Bay Area =






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Congress Reaches Agreement on Mortgage Relief Bill

December 19th, 2007 · No Comments

Here is another facet of the financial “crisis” we face – whether or not you own real estate, this will be paid for by your taxes (and mine).  

The House of Representatives will approve the Senate-passed version of H.R. 3648, the “Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007.”  Thus, once the House passes this bill it will be cleared for the President’s signature.


Under the Mortgage Relief Act, effective for indebtedness discharged on or after Jan. 1, 2007 and before Jan. 1, 2010, taxpayers generally may exclude from income up to $2 million of mortgage debt forgiveness on their principal residence. However, the Mortgage Relief Act also includes the following important tax changes having nothing to do with mortgage debt tax relief:


·          A three year extension of the rule treating qualifying mortgage insurance premiums as deductible qualified residence interest.


·          An exclusion for qualified state or local tax benefits (e.g., reduction or rebate of state or local income or property tax) and reimbursement-type payments (up to $360 a year) granted to members of a qualified volunteer emergency response organization. The new exclusion will apply for tax years beginning after 2007 and before 2011.


·          Effective for sales and exchanges after Dec. 31, 2007, surviving single spouses will qualify for the $500,000 home-sale exclusion if the sale occurs not later than 2 years after their spouse’s death and the requirements for the $500,000 exclusion were met immediately before the spouse’s death. Currently, the up-to-$500,000 exclusion is available only if spouses file a joint return for the year of sale.


·          Effective on the enactment date, two alternative methods are provided for meeting the 80% rule for qualifying as a cooperative housing corporation.


·          Certain full-time students who are single parents and their children may live in housing units eligible for the low-income housing tax credit if their children are not dependents of another individual (other than a parent of such children). In general, this change applies to housing credit amounts allocated before, on or after the enactment date, and to buildings placed in service before, on or after the enactment date.


·          Effective for returns filed after the enactment date, the per-partner penalty for failure to file partnership returns is $85 per month, and the period for calculating the failure to file penalty is 12 months. Additionally, a like per-shareholder penalty is imposed on failure to file an S corporation return.


·          The required installment amount for estimated tax payments by corporations with assets of $1 billion or more that is otherwise due in July, Aug., or Sept. of 2012 increases from 115.75% to 117.25%.

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Senate Passes FHA Loan Limit Increase!

December 17th, 2007 · No Comments

On Friday, December 14, 2007, the U.S. Senate voted 93 to 1 to pass S. 2338, the FHA Modernization Act, which will reform the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).  A conference committee will now meet to resolve differences between this bill and the one passed by the House of Representatives earlier this year. 

This is a huge victory for REALTORS® who have lobbied Congress aggressively all year to pass FHA reform and provide troubled homeowners with safe and affordable refinancing options.  Senator Diane Feinstein supported the measure and though Senator Barbara Boxer was not present to vote on the bill, she did issue a statement supporting it. 

While the issue of FHA reform enjoys broad bipartisan support, including the administration, there are still a number of details to be worked out between the Senate FHA reform bill and the House passed version.  Additionally, legislation to reform Government Sponsored Entities (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has not yet been introduced in the Senate. 

Thank you to every Realtor®, lender or concerned citizen who participated in the call-for-action on this bill and the issue of GSE reform by contacting Senators Feinstein and Boxer.

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