The Six Best Questions to Ask At Open House

Spring Open House Season is in full swing. I had over 60 parties through my open house on 1349 Norton this past weekend and Realtors all over town report similar crowds of eager home buyers.

I am an expert at open houses. I have hosted hundreds of them in my career and there are questions that pop up with stunning regularity. I am talking about questions that make me wonder, “What is this buyer thinking?”

“You listed this as a three bedroom home. Where is the third bedroom?”.

“Um- that would be the home office that has just one door and a lovely walk in closet”

“But that is an office. Where is the third bedroom?”


“Is this house vacant?”

This question is asked in a house full of furniture, personal photographs on the wall and a loaf of bread on the counter.

“Uh, no. No, it isn’t”

Here’s another common one,

“What did they pay for the home?” or “How long have they lived here?”

The open house attendee is trying to find out how much negotiating room there is. Good idea- but this has to be one of the very worst ways to find out. What the homeowner paid ten years ago has nothing to do with what the market might produce for the homeowner today.

Right. Then, what should I do?

Today’s market offers very few good homes for sale. Asking the right questions at open house could make a huge difference in successfully buying the best house today or looking for the rest of your God Given Weekends.

Let’s take a look at some of the very best questions you could ask a Realtor at open house.

1. Why has the seller decided to sell now?

This is a variation on, “How motivated is the seller?”. I like this question because it will take the Realtor by surprise and is much more likely to get an complete answer. The Realtor will almost always answer the “how motivated” question with a “very motivated” answer because they want to hook you in. However, asking “Why” will give you far more insight into what the seller really needs and it might also tell you how urgent the sale is.

2. Have you had any offers?

Almost everyone knows to ask, “How long have you been on the market?”, but very few ask the best follow up question, “Have you had any offers?”. Most buyers miss the fact that they are “negotiating” against two entities- the seller and the other potential buyers. You need to know as much as you can about BOTH. Putting these two questions together will tell you a lot about how your potential buyer competitors are reacting to this home. Bonus points are awarded if you get an answer to, “How much were those offers?”

3. How long have you been at this price?

I have never been asked this question and I think it is a fantastic one. A home that has been at a price for a long time might be ripe for a low offer. A home that has been on the market for a long time, but just reduced the price significantly might be a steal overlooked by others.

4. What are the comparable sales?

Theoretically the Realtor has intimate knowledge of the recent sales in the area and how they compare to the home you are viewing. Asking about these sales will tell you a lot about the seller’s negotiating strategy. Did they price high, low or right at recent comparable sales? As a bonus, you will find out a lot about the Realtor answering the question. If you are shopping for a Realtor to represent you, the ability to answer (or not) will tell you a lot about their expertise.

5. Beside price, is there anything else important to the seller?

Let’s not kid ourselves, price is almost always the most important factor to a seller. However, in a market where multiple offers are common, like today, other factors can make the difference between two similarly priced offers. It might be the length of escrow or the possession date. It might be the size of a down payment or a commonality of values. If this is a house you covet, you will want to know the answer to this question.

6. What will it take to buy this home?

I know, I know. You are thinking, “If I ask this question, won’t I tip my hand to the Realtor? They will know I really want the home!” First of all, if you really DO want the home, it isn’t a bad idea to let the Realtor know. Our job isn’t to trick you into paying too much for the home. Our job is to facilitate a mutually beneficial deal. If you ask this question you are only indicating that you are a serious buyer. Nothing more. You might even find out that you could buy the home for a lower price than you are willing to pay.

There you have it, the very best questions to ask at an open house. You are officially the best armed buyers in town. And, if you are curious, I am happy to answer any of those questions at my next open house. Bring it on.



Simplify Your Life- Get a Guest House

I love articles and magazines devoted to simplifying life.  De-clutter!  Organize!  Repurpose!  I love the idea of “less is more” and I fantasize about having “just enough”.

It occurs to me that my life would be simpler if I had a guest house.  I want a nice, one story home with a detached guest house.

I am on the tail end of the Boomers.  I have creaky knees and kids about to leave the nest.  I have a pool that gets ignored, crazy air conditioning bills and waaaaay too much stuff.  The house that made sense 8 years ago does not serve the way I live today.

I want a guest house.  My main house will have just what I need, on one level.  The guest house will house my home office, my hobbies and my extra “stuff”.  It will house temporary residents of all sorts and it will be vital when the family (all 26 of them) come for holidays.  As I grow older, the guest house will help me stay in my house for a long time.  If I needed a caregiver they could have a place to stay the night.

Are you ready to simplify your life?  Does a guest house sound like a great idea?  Well guess what- I have some homes that fit the bill and they are available for you to buy!

First up is this completely remodeled home with a guest house in the Burbank Foothills.  The main house has 2100 square feet of living area with 2 master suites, a third bedroom and lots of ne amenities.  One of the master baths even has heated floors! (1010 Santa Anita, $729,000)

Another idea is this adorable English Cottage with guest house in Pasadena‘s Madison Heights.  There is the main 3 bedroom home, impeccably restored, and a separate 1 bedroom guest house.  This house is close to the historic Langham Hotel and South Pasadena.

The guest house is located on the other side of a gracious backyard lawn and the whole compound exudes a sophisticated charm.  (900-902 S Los Robles, $799,000)

The most sophisticated one of all is this stunning Colonial Home with guest house in a Pasadena area called Michillinda Park.  Martha Stewart would approve of this gracious EastCoast inflected home with large windows, remodeled everything and generous space.

To be fair, this is a two story main house, but you just can’t argue with the style of this home.  The guest house, alone, beckons me home. (642 Woodward, $878,000)

If you would like to see any of these homes, or, if you want me to keep an eye out for more homes with a guest house  call me at 818-396-7588.

Kendyl Young blogs daily at  and she covers Glendale Home Values,  La Canada Flintridge Home Values and  La Crescenta Home Values.  You call or text her at 818-396-7588 or email  Amusing tweets; @kendyl



La Cañada Flintridge Homes Values Report

As I look at the charts of our performance in La Canada real estate I am struck by how much of our market is driven by the school schedule. Sellers and buyers jump into the market right at the first of the year. Our savvy population understands that completing the move from house “A” to house “B” can take a few months, and it is mission critical to be in and settled by August.

This year the predictable spring rise in inventory stopped early and suddenly at the end of May- typically this rise lasts until end of July.

Home sales rose steadily until August and then fell sharply once school registration was over. The most disturbing number, though, is the sharp decline in new contracts in September. Only 6 homes entered escrow for the entire month. This will negatively impact the number of closed escrows 60 days from now.

Our Months Supply of inventory has been rising since July and we are now at 5.1- solid Neutral Market. Average price per square foot reflects this with a flat trend line since May.

Under 1 Million

This category did not even exist in La Canada 5 years ago, and now represents about 25% of the market. Inventory did NOT rise this spring has been falling steadily, all year. At the same time, sales have been steady resulting in the months supply of inventory that has fallen into solid Seller Market. Price trends are nearly impossible to comment on, however, because the average of just a few sales is meaningless.

1 Million – 2 Million

This is our “Bread and Butter” price range, with 42% of the homes currently listed as well as a majority of the sales falling in this category. Because this is the majority of the market, trends predictably follow the overall La Canada market. Inventory rose until the end of spring; sales rose until the end of summer. In September, we saw a bump up in inventory and a sharp decline in closed escrows, landing us at 5.5 Months Supply of Inventory- a strong Neutral Market. Average price per square foot, however, has been bouncing all over the place with 7% decline from one year ago.

2 Million and Above

Our upper end represents nearly 30% of our inventory, but only a small percentage of the sales. The good news is this dynamic is reflected through out Southern California. Even marquee areas like Newport and Beverly HIlls have an over supply of high end homes.

La Canada represents a tremendous value over these marquee areas and with our world class schools, stunning natural beauty and close proximity to several major business centers.

A few of these trophy homes have sold each month and the rate has been quite steady.

Kendyl Young blogs daily at and she covers local real estate trends, hot properties and community happenings in Glendale, La Canada and La Crescenta. You call or text her at 818-396-7588 or email Amusing tweets; @kendyl

Glendale Home Values Report for September 2011

Click HERE for a video version.

It is time to talk about how the Market- I think there are three basic questions you want answered:

  1. Should I buy now, or wait?
  2. Should I sell now or wait?
  3. Are home prices going up or down?

The problem with all of these questions is that they are asking for predictions into the future. All I can report, with accuracy is where we’ve been and make educated guess about where we are going.

So, last month I did a pretty through review of the concept of supply of inventory and how you can use it to make guesses about the near near future. As a short review- 0-4 months supply means a seller’s market, 4-6 months supply is a neutral market and more than 6 months supply is a buyer’s market.

I think everyone was a bit surprised to find that we are right in-between a seller’s market and a neutral market- the buyers are NOT in control as the mass media would lead you to believe.

This month I will update you on the general trends in Glendale, but I am also going to take a little time to discuss the different price categories in our town. High end and low end sellers and buyers can experience very different markets within the same town.

First of all,a general picture of Glendale. inventory continues it’s downward trend in number of homes on the market- this month saw nearly the lowest amount of inventory in the last 15 months. The number of homes sold also continues a gentle downward trend while the number of homes that enter escrow is experiencing a gentle UPWARD trend.

I believe the gap between homes entering escrow and homes successfully closing shows the complexities of obtaining loans as well as the skittish nature of today’s buyer.

Months supply of inventory is holding steady at 4.3 months (neutral) and the average price per square foot has fallen 12% from a high point in July.

Are prices going down?!!

That is exactly what I want to talk about. Because the answer is, “Depends”. It depends what end of the price spectrum you are interested in. The lower end, under $500,000 has a different dynamic than the mid range, $500,000- $750,000. And our upper end is- well, in a different world all together.

The Lower End

Inventory is super low -the lowest point of the year and nearly half of what is was a year a go. At the same time our rate of sales is more or less even. This results in the Months Supply of Inventory of 4- now, we all know that is a Neutral Market, right?

In fact, if you look at the average price per square foot and you smooth out the big sell off of May, 2011 and you see a mostly flat to slightly declining trend line.

However. Since March the number of homes entering escrow has been on a steep increase, but the number of closings has not. This means that closing a home in this price range is especially difficult.

Sellers, pick your buyers very carefully. All of the buyers I see look great on paper and should be able to get a loan. The problems are more complex and it takes tremendous people skill and technical skill to close a deal.

Buyers- you have serious competition from other buyers and very few homes to choose from.

The Mid Range

Now, you might think that the under $500,000 would be the most active category, but you would be wrong. The most active category is the mid range, between $500,000 and $750,000.

The most number of closed escrows and active listings are in this range, and the percentage of short sales is the lowest. It appears that these homes have a much higher chance of closing.

The months supply of inventory (MSI) is currently at 2.8- solid Seller’s Market and prices should be going up, right? In fact, since May, the average price per square foot has, indeed, been going in a mostly upward direction. However, that price has fallen 7% from last year.

The news is relatively rosy for sellers in this price range! Demand is strong, the transactions are closing (though not, sadly, drama free) and there are very few homes on the market to compete.

If you are a buyer, all is not lost. Focus on the historically low interest rates available to you right now. This, combined with the decline in value over the last two years, means this home is likely a super value that will serve your family for many years.

The Upper End

The rate of sales for the upper end ($750,000+) has been pretty steady all year- not a lot of sales, but steady. Inventory is similarly steady with a small trend upward in the last quarter.

Because the number of homes selling is fairly small (about 10 a month), The MSI shows huge fluctuation (too small of a sample). In general I read this chart as the high end of neutral trending toward a Buyer’s Market.

If you are a seller in this price range I urge caution! There are roughly 50 homes competing for just 10 buyers. In order to be “The Guy” that sells, as opposed to the one who doesn’t, it is extremely important that you are one of the top three values on the market!

Buyers- understand your leverage. This is the only segment where I think you have any real power with sellers. There are more homes to choose from and you have a better chance of finding a great home with a motivated seller.

Kendyl Young blogs daily at and she covers local real estate trends, hot properties and community happenings in Glendale, La Canada and La Crescenta. You call or text her at 818-396-7588 or email Amusing tweets; @kendyl

Can I Sell My Home Short and Then Buy?

The short answer is , “Not easily” .  In life we don’t often get to “eat our cake and have it, too”Can I Sell My Home Short and Buy?

To really understand the options, let’s take a quick review.  A short sale is when a homeowner owes more to the bank then the home is worth.  The bank most agree to take less, or be “shorted”,  on the loan in order for the home to be sold.  The banks will do this if they feel that a.) the homeowner will let the home foreclose and b.) the bank feels the short will net them more money.  The foreclosure process takes time and can be costly.

Allrighty, then.  Most people who enter into a short sale have severe financial hardship- lost jobs, lost spouse, bad loans.  These homeowners are not in a position to buy now or or in the near future.  They will likely rent, while they rebuild their lives and credit. In some cases they can buy a home  in as little as two years.

However, increasingly, we are seeing “strategic defaults”.   This is a new breed of homeowner that chooses a short sale, but not out of desperate financial need.  Many are struggling, but are still able to make their payments.  However, they need to move on with their lives and they can’t wait for the years it might take to “recover” thier homes value.

These are the people who wonder if they can sell short and buy, right away.  Frankly, the answer is , “No”.  The banks will want to see a two year track record of financial responsibility before they will lend money.  A homeowner who chooses to sell short must bear the consequences.

Here are the exceptions.

  1. Title is in one partner’s name and the other partner can qualify for a new loan.
  2. A hard money lender might lend, but it will be expensive
  3. A seller carries the loan
  4. The bank of Mom and Dad carries the loan
So, think carefully and choose wisely before selling your home short.  It will move your life forward, but it is not without downsides.

Kendyl Young blogs daily at Kendyl’s Open House and she covers local real estate trends, hot properties and community happenings in Glendale, La Canada and La Crescenta. You call or text her at 818-396-7588 or email Amusing tweets; @kendyl

What’s My Price?

Let’s play a game!

Show of hands, who thinks pricing a home is easy? Who thinks it is only something a professional should do? Who thinks Realtors manipulate price for their own selfish gain? It’s ok to raise your hand, no one is looking.

In this Set the Price game, I am going to put YOU in the driver’s seat. I’ll give you the facts on a home that I am putting on the market and the comparables that I used to analyze price.

I want you to consider all the facts and take the survey – what price do you think this home will sell for?

The Chart


The Subject Property

1446 Cleveland (Click on the address for a full photo album) is a stunning English Tudor home located just below Kenneth Rd. It is filled with architectural detail and has a true Master Suite, Family Room and large yard with pool. This home is a short sale and likely to sell for less than a “normal” sale.

The Comparables

1451 Cleveland is just across the street. This largely original condition home has been well maintained and is light and bright. There is a nice, permitted, bonus room off the garage.This home is in escrow, list price is $595,000 and the sales price could be that or it could be less.

1331 Spazier is chosen because it is similar in size and architectural detail. It is sold at $670,000. This home is restored and remodeled and has a lovely, though plain, backyard, no pool. The neighborhood is slightly less desirable.

1342 Cleveland is one block below our subject home. It was a foreclosed home that had a complete make over by investors and sold for profit. It sold for $695,000. It was highly remodeled but lacks a family room and the pool takes up the entire yard.

Survey Says!

So here’s the fun part. Choose the price range that you think reflects the eventual sales price. Remember, the subject home is a short sale, so don’t forget to factor that into your price.

Take Me To The Survey!

Kendyl Young blogs daily at and she covers local real estate trends, hot properties and community happenings in Glendale, La Canada and La Crescenta. You call or text her at 818-396-7588 or email Amusing tweets; @kendyl

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