As Pleasanton enters the third year of home sales prices in the million-dollar range, real estate professionals have offered tips for potential buyers that focus on preparation, teamwork, agility and patience.
"Be aggressive with your financial stewardship, especially your savings," said Tim Ambrose, president of the Bay East Association of Realtors, based in Pleasanton. "Be prepared to adjust your wants; and find a good Realtor. This is going to be the biggest purchase of your life, don't try to go it alone."
During the first quarter of 2018, of the 111 single-family detached homes sold in Pleasanton, more than 90 sold for more than $1 million. A robust job market throughout the region, coupled with a limited supply of homes for sale, indicates these prices will continue through 2018.
Asked if the million-dollar price-tag causes clients to adjust their expectations from a single-family detached home to a condominium or townhome, Ambrose said, "Buyers pretty much know what they want, and they'll adjust from a three-bedroom, two-bath to a two-bedroom, one-bath home because they do want the single-family home and when they're that fixed on it they are willing to adjust their expectations."
William Doerlich, past president of Bay East, emphasized buyers putting together a team to make them competitive in a hot market.
"Most prospective buyers will be searching online for a time to prepare and gain a sense of the market," he said. "When you get serious, the decision regarding the professional team you are working with -- Realtor and mortgage professional -- is a key success factor."
Managing your current housing costs are a factor to consider before making a move.
"If you currently own a home, settle on your strategy prior to entering the marketplace -- leverage equity and hold or sell. If you are renting, how does the timing of the close of escrow sync with your lease? Timing in any market is important especially in a low inventory market such as at present," Doerlich said.
Ambrose stressed the difference between a buyer's "wants" versus non-negotiable "needs," a point Doerlich expanded on: "Agree on the key decision criteria that will drive the home search. Is it schools, access to transportation, community amenities, a specific floor plan or feature, or a combination of all of the above? Rank the criteria in an order that will allow both you and the Realtor a clear picture of your home."
Doerlich added, "If a home with any or all of those criteria comes on the market, be ready to act. In a low inventory market, there may not be time to re-discuss and prioritize. Speed and a decisive attitude is critical to a successful offer."
Pleasanton-based Realtor Tracey Esling emphasized financial preparation for potential million-dollar homebuyers.
"Buying a home in this market takes two very important groups of people: a Realtor to educate you on the market you are buying in and a lender to counsel you on your finances, help you understand your credit score, advise you on what debts you need to pay off or what not to payoff and how much to save, based on your down payment," Esling said.
Esling advised patience can be as important as preparation, saying, "This is a process that may not happen overnight, but going into these markets uneducated will turn your largest investment into a very disappointing experience rather than the most exciting one ever."
How much does the Pleasanton housing stock -- mostly single-family detached homes -- impact prices versus lifestyle amenities?
"People buy environment," Ambrose said. "They want to have nice schools, they want to have nice shopping centers, they want to be able to walk and feel safe at night. Those things drive where buyers buy more than the house itself. That's why people put up with long commutes."
Ambrose said that many current Pleasanton homebuyers have high-paying jobs in Silicon Valley. However, he was quick to point out that a job in Silicon Valley isn't a prerequisite or even the most common denominator among home buyers in the current million-dollar market.
"The one thing they have in common is they want to be safe, they want to live in an environment that has good schools, good neighborhoods," he said.