Escrow Out Loud

Elevator phobias (#7), offer strategies (#15), leading real estate economists (#44), real estate jargon explained (#51), and only-in-San-Francisco stories (in every episode). Our podcast, Escrow Out Loud, is a little like driving around in a car with us between properties on a home tour.

Except it’s on your schedule. Listen anywhere, anytime:





Episode Guide

#54: Statistics of Doom? September 2018 San Francisco Real Estate Market Update

This week our San Francisco Real Estate podcast turns to the rearview mirror for a September 2018 market update.
[00:45] There's been chatter in the San Francisco property market about properties not receiving offers and price reductions returning to the marketplace. Does this mean that there is a market shift looming? Are these stories and anecdotes, or leading indicators of a looming market shift? We try and take some real estate market statistics from the San Francisco multiple listing service (MLS) to see if they might shed some light on the situation; is there really a market shift, or is all still noise?
[03:51] Real Estate valuation can be elusively complicated even though it seems simple. It can often include both the hard analysis of statistics as well as the more subjective personal factors that matter when people buy homes. Sample size is also an essential factor, and SF is a (relatively) small market. Most of the statistics that are reported in the media cover the entire bay area (7 or 9 county region, much more area than just SF) and aren't representative of SF in particular. It can be downright impossible to determine the health of the San Francisco real estate market using just those articles.
[07:18] If you want an accurate picture of what's happening in the market make sure you are looking at SF specifically. But, then the situation will also vary depending on a specific neighborhood as well as property type.
[09:00] The interest rates are rising, and we are seeing things are taking a little longer to happen; is this a blip or are things about to fall? We discuss the last time there was a downturn.
[11:06] It is no secret that in the previous few years it has been a rough market for buyers. Currently, the prices aren't falling, but things are taking longer. We share why buyers shouldn't get scared off by this and why it might actually be a good time for them.
[13:37] So, let's look at some stats. Regarding quantity (year-to-date) re-sales are up, pending sales are up overall, sold listings are up overall and active listings are up.
[16:06] Price year-to-date figures show that the sales price for the overall market is up 8% (single families up 17% and condos up 6%). Properties sold over the listing price are also up 4%; so far 81% of single family homes and 61% of condos sold over listing price this year! We also discuss list price received and price per square foot.
[19:30] Finally, we wrap up today by looking at metrics about time on market and months supply of inventory. Are we currently in a balanced market? We look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments or via social!
Thank you for joining us. We hope you enjoyed tuning in and join us again next week for another episode!
See for privacy and opt-out information.

#53: Question That Answer, or: What We Think A Good Realtor Does

Our San Francisco Real Estate podcast turns to title insurance and escrow this week, and to try and make a relatively dry topic a bit more interesting, we decide to do what we do every day for our clients - question that answer! But first, Matt looks in the mirror after a bad podcast performance and a quick review of our stats reveals how very popular game shows are.
[00:54] With the Jargon Jeopardy episode being one of our most popular episodes, and us not wanting to get a letter from anyone's attorney for using a trademarked term, Matt was inspired to come up with a new name for our most popular game show that's a lot like that one with Alex. Question That Answer seemed like a great description because, as we chat about, it is how we help our clients.
[02:35] We also believe it is not only important to get answers, it is also important to understand them. This is where Britton's experience as a high-school teacher (or is it her past life as a private investigator?) comes very useful!
[04:07] Introducing our next topic of escrow and title insurance with the Inaugural round of Question That Answer. Some Questions we cover are: Title Insurance, Title Insurance Companies, Escrow. As a side note - how Escrow is handled in California may vary from your state, and this show is for entertainment purposes!
[08:32] So, how many title insurance policies do we need? Do you have to have it if you are paying cash? What if we’re paying cash and don’t want a title insurance policy? What about if we are not using cash and are getting a loan from a bank instead?
[10:23] Britton explains the difference between the lenders policy and the owner’s policy of title insurance. We’ve been talking about defects, liens, encumbrance and easements but what do these all mean and what are some examples? Britton shares the story of a San Francisco story (perhaps a true story) about a Glen Park home with a major easement for a utility company....
Thank you for joining us for part 1 of this episode. We hope you enjoyed tuning in and don’t forget to join us again next week for part 2!
See for privacy and opt-out information.

#52: House Hunters

Our San Francisco Real Estate podcast, Escrow Out Loud, is at a major milestone: with 52 episodes we now have enough podcasts about San Francisco real estate for you to listen to one every week for an entire year!
Verbal offers, llama trainers, no we talk about an American reality TV show called House Hunters. American reality TV is pretty realistic in terms of portraying real-world experiences, right? We discuss...
[01:20] The premise of House Hunters US (there is also House Hunters International) is that there is a couple (or sometimes just a single) who are looking for a new place to live. Interestingly though, but not overly surprising given this is a realty show, the couple almost never want the same thing.
[03:15] The budgets on the show vary and a lot of the times the city they are in remains a mystery to the viewer. The budget is also typically presented as a source of contention between the couple. In our experience this does not happen very often. More often than not couples tend to agree on the amount they wish to spend.
[06:38] Is the exterior of a home important to you when deciding on a property? On the show this seems to be a very important element in making the final decision on a property. Which reminds of us an earlier podcast, Avocado Green Appliances and Faux Brick where we talked with Kevin from Sawyers Design and his take on viewing a property from the exterior.
[09:18] The couple is always shown three different properties and then they pick one. Only three properties? Hmm this seems unlikely to us. Britton may know the realty behind this reality TV set-up.
[12:47] To wrap up, we don’t recommend that you form your expectations of buying property based on what you see on the show. The process is fairly unrealistic, especially when compared to our experiences with the market in San Francisco.
Thank you for joining us for this week’s episode. We hope you enjoyed tuning in and join us again next week!
See for privacy and opt-out information.

#51: Jargon Jeopardy

This week on our San Francisco real estate podcast Escrow Out Loud, we decide to play a game (since we recorded this edition on a holiday weekend).
[00:29] Britton is really, really good at Scrabble, but that is not what we are playing today. Today we are playing Jargon Jeopardy!
[02:31] “What is Jargon Jeopardy?”, you may ask. Well, follow along as we play and explain commonly used real estate acronyms.
A few highlights:SFAR/MSI/PMI/CCR/HOA (Angry Dogs in Elevators and Overweight Chihuahuas)/CID/PUD/HO6/CRS/GRI/CFC/RRR/LOI/LTV/BMR...
Phew! We have a lot of jargon in real estate. And this was just a small sample!
[12:45] Finally, Matt and Britton debate the true meaning of LOL.
Thank you for joining us for this week’s episode. We hope you enjoyed tuning in and join us again next week!
See for privacy and opt-out information.

#50: Price per Square Foot Police

After catching up on the market situation last week, we got to thinking about real estate statistics and how Realtors use and mis-use them. This week on Escrow Out Loud, our San Francisco Real Estate podcast, we were inspired to chat about one of the most popular real estate statistics in San Francisco: price per square foot.
[00:21] Price per square foot (PPSF or $/SF) is a useful metric for pricing consideration and analysis. But where does the number come from? In San Francisco, MLS listings often contain a square footage measurement that allows us to calculate price per square foot. However, MLS sources for square footage come from a variety of sources, and there are no "square footage police" who verify, regulate, or monitor the reporting of square footage.
Finally, we talk about some property types where price per square foot may be a more useful or accurate measurement than in other areas. In a nutshell, price per square foot is most useful where there is homogenous housing.
[05:38] Another challenge in measuring square footage in existing as-built neighborhoods is the ‘bonus space’ a.k.a “This room was probably built without a permit space”. Given that bonus rooms are typically built without benefit of permits, appraisers don’t value these spaces at the same value (price per square foot) as warranted space within a home.
[07:41] When it comes to information on square footage, it is not only the different sources but also the different methods used to measure the footage that result in inconsistencies. Interior only? Walls? Stairs? Bonus space?
[10:36] Finally, a sales price consists of both market value and personal value. In any given sale, how do we know if the sales price is reflective of actual value or if the price was influenced by a personal factor?
Price per square foot is a great place to start a conversation or exploration of value, but because of the way numbers are measured and reported in San Francisco, it isn’t necessarily a 100% accurate data point.
Thank you for joining us for this week’s episode. We hope you enjoyed tuning in and join us again next week!
See for privacy and opt-out information.

#49: "Woo Woo" The July 2018 Market Update

This week on Escrow Out Loud, our San Francisco Real Estate podcast, we chat about what has been happening in San Francisco real estate during the month of July.
[00:21] We start by talking about the typical summer dip in real estate inventory for San Francisco as sellers wait out the summer fog and buyers seek warmer weather and cooler markets. Real Estate blogs typically share bleak outlooks, and is that what is really going on out there and what has been our personal experience during this time?
[04:34] What do the market stats for July mean then? Trend or blip? While the San Francisco real estate market can turn on a dime, it doesn’t feel like that is what’s happening. Interest rates have not gone up enough to drive off buyers, so the slow down really seems like our typical summer slowdown. Also, meet the woo woo.
[05:38] What does appear unchanged in SF is that property prices are as unaffordable as ever. The median price for a single-family house in SF is approaching 1.7 million; there are still condos and houses in certain areas that go for far less than 1.6 million but all homes are now expensive. We repeat what have been saying for a while now, we need more housing!
[07:41] Is this the new normal? Could San Francisco infrastructure support a large influx of people? Some folks feel there is a valid argument that says, even if we build more housing, the city can’t absorb any more people without improvements to transit and other systems.
[11:13] And... back to July market stats! To wrap up, the month supply of inventory is still very tight, under two months, for both condos and single families. Luckily, in September and October we experience the second of our yearly bumps in inventory that may ease some of that pressure.
Thank you for joining us for this week’s episode. We hope you enjoyed tuning in and join us again next week!
See for privacy and opt-out information.

#48: Water, Water, Water

This week on Escrow Out Loud, our San Francisco Real Estate podcast, we wrap-up our conversation with David Milne, from Arch Home Inspection. If you missed the beginning of our interview, check out our previous two episodes!
[00:21] Buyers will commonly do their homework before the home inspection. This allows them to come prepared with questions. A home inspection however, will offer a different perspective and guidance, so buyers don’t have to worry about missing important details.
[01:24] We talk water! The most worrisome issues are usually somehow water related. David explains that we have to address water issues such as with dealing with rain, considering drainage and subterranean water.
[05:03] Each inspector has their own particular style. David explains how he tries to put things in perspective and get everyone engaged. How does he ensure that he is being fair to all parties involved while being realistic about the condition of the property?
[09:13] Building contractors look at materials differently to most people. Paint is a great example of this; most of us look at paint from an aesthetic point of view, but for David paint is a vehicle for keeping water out.
[11:24] Most of us will have our Spidey senses kick in as we clock-on to a certain vibe when stepping inside a property. David shares some tell-tale signs that there is something more going on that alert him to look closer. Open windows, candles and dehumidifiers are some great examples.
[14:31] Why are there no plastic pipes in San Francisco? In David’s experience logic does not always apply.
[17:54] To wrap up, David shares one way of looking at buying homes in San Francisco. With an old city such as this, when you are buying a house you are buying a piece of history.
Thank you for joining us for this week’s episode. We hope you enjoyed tuning in and join us again next week!
See for privacy and opt-out information.

#47: What Am I Looking At, What Am I Seeing?

This week on Escrow Out Loud, our San Francisco Real Estate podcast, we continue our conversation with David Milne, from Arch Home Inspection. If you missed part one of our interview, check out our previous episode #46.
[00:21] A common buyer question is: Should I do an inspection on brand new construction or on the re-sale of a new construction home? What often stands out on this type of property is things go wrong during a remodel. We also talk about what a tank inspection is, other changes that have occurred over the decades, and various other inspections he's often asked about.
[04:50] What are some unusual things one can came across as a building inspector?
[06:01] David likes for people to understand what to expect in terms of the local environment and how that affects building construction. While old construction often had the same construction standards across the country, for new construction this can vary. Amazing fact: Before about 1900 it was not uncommon for homes to be originally built without a foundation!
[09:16] Because the difference between how new and old may be built, David explains how he makes sure he's seeing what he's looking at. Which requires switching his thinking caps through out the day depending on what he is looking at. What is quite helpful for him are his years of experience in the city of San Francisco and knowledge of its history.
[10:55] In terms of favorite neighborhoods, the avenues can make for a straightforward day on the job... Finally, David shares an unfortunate example where an artistic hobby can potentially turn into a hazardous situation...
Thank you for joining us for this week’s episode. We hope you enjoyed tuning in and join us again next week for the final part of our interview with David.
See for privacy and opt-out information.

#46: Thousands of Home Inspections

After a brief hiatus we're back with a brand new episode.
For most buyers, without previous experience in construction, knowing what to look out for when buying a property can be quite daunting. This week on Escrow Out Loud, our San Francisco Real Estate podcast, we talk to David Milne from Arch Home Inspections about the importance of home inspection.
[01:32] Why is it important for everyone to have a home inspection when buying a property? What it really comes down to is gathering information on the condition of the property, so that you can make the best decision going in. David explains there are normally two reports; one is a termite/pest inspection and the other is a contractor report which David would provide. A typical contractor's home inspection report includes everything from the foundations, exterior covering, roof condition, drainage conditions, water, the three utilities, water heater and heat system as well as looking for any alarm bells inside the building. Because a home inspection isn't really designed to cover appliances, David recommends people also consider a home warranty.
[05:17] The pest control inspectors are governed by a board that oversees them but in California there is no licensing for home inspection. What they do have is organizations such as ASHI and CREIA that provide governing standards to follow. What does home code compliance actually mean and how does it change over time?
[09:58] Since home inspectors are not regulated we should consider what the inspector's background is when choosing a good one. In David’s case experience in construction and working as a high-end trim installer made him an ideal fit for a career in home inspection.
[12:15] The process of home inspection can be an emotional and stressful process for everyone involved. For David his favorite inspectins are when dealing with first time buyers. He shares his favorite stories and explains how his approach is to reassure and relax them.
[14:14] Whether he is working with sellers, agents or buyers, David always aims to tell it as it is, without embellishing or leaning towards either side. A part of his job is to deal with objections and the best way he found to deal with this aspect of his job is to keep an open dialogue with people. He recommends that people talk to different contractors if they are not satisfied with the advice they are getting. A good rule of thumb to follow is that if you are hearing similar advice from different people, you are on the right track.
[19:55] Property prices keep climbing in San Francisco and have come a long way in recent years. This means that, proportionally, the major systems and structures cost less to fix now days. Changing the foundation now costs just 5% of the purchase price and is not as relatively daunting.
[22:02] Before beginning his inspection, David likes to ask people what their plans for the property are and advise them accordingly. Most of San Francisco is old and built with old redwood which is great quality. How is the newer construction different? Finally, what to do with old foundations and why it is a good idea to bundle your projects to get the best bang for your buck!
Thank you for joining us for this week’s episode. We hope you enjoyed tuning in and join us again next week for part two of our interview with David!
See for privacy and opt-out information.

#45: Mid-Market Metamorphosis? with Eddy Skees

This week on Escrow Out Loud, our San Francisco Real Estate podcast, we are in one of San Francisco’s newest buildings, Stage 1075 which features 90 units. We talk to Eddy Skees about these affordable new homes and their thriving Market Street location.
[02:51] Featuring smaller units at lower, more attainable prices, the Stage building was designed with younger, first-time home buyers in mind. It is located in an area of San Francisco called the mid-market which is changing rapidly. The five-star Proper Hotel, and its rooftop bar, Charmaine, happens to be right across the street from the Stage building, and then there is the development of the Yotel Hotel, a number of new apartment buildings, and the new Wholefoods store which are just some examples of the revitalisation currently happening in the neighbourhood.
[07:58] We know that, with increasing gentrification, people on the margins of society get pushed out. The good news is that the city has recognized this problem and has been working with various non-governmental agencies on new affordable housing, to deal with this issue. Mercy Housing is building new studio units for 256 formerly homeless people behind Stage 1027.
[09:46] How does the market rate population feel about that? A majority of people interested in this area recognize and embrace the blend of economics that comes from living in a diverse city neighborhood. With a majority of people being first home buyers, this feels more like a solution to the housing problem in San Francisco. What else is planned for this location?
[16:09] What do we mean by small and affordable? Some ballpark figures for smaller one-bedrooms range in the 500-550sq feet at around 700,000 or the premium one-bedrooms at 650-700sq feet ranging around 800,000. While this might seem small to some people, its good to keep in mind that life in San Francisco revolves around city experiences and getting outside for entertainment. What’s more, their practical urban location means everything you need is at a walking distance and the subway is also just half a block away! (listen to our Late-Adjacent neighborhoods episode for more on how to choose the right location)
Thank you for joining us for this week’s episode. We hope you enjoyed tuning in and join us again next week for more San Francisco real estate stories!
See for privacy and opt-out information.

#44: Hail to the Chief (Economist): Leslie Appleton-Young

This week on Escrow Out Loud, our San Francisco Real Estate podcast, we have a very special guest star! Leslie Appleton-Young, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist at the California Association of Realtors (CAR), joins us from her home base in Los Angeles to share some of the wisdom she's known for as well as her great insights into the California real estate market.
[00:21] CAR is a state-wide trade organization for organized real estate with more than 195,000 members and Leslie’s role involves directing the activities of the Association's Member Information Team. Her impressive list of responsibilities also includes overseeing analysis of the housing market and brokerage industry trends, close involvement in the Association’s strategic planning as well as leading the Woman Up Initiative.
[01:42] What is the job of Chief Economist? Economics is only part of what her job entails. Monitoring trends and looking at data on median house prices and sales activity is another part. On the CAR website there are dashboards that enable people to pull up information for localized areas by entering a zip codes or a city.
[05:32] How did Leslie come to work at the CAR? We get a little insight into her background.
[07:16] Leslie has invaluable experience gained during her years working in the male dominated field in the 80’s which were formative in helping her establish her career. She formed Woman Up as an opportunity to give back and offer support to other incredible women in the industry. Leslie’s advice is to say yes when offered opportunities! Do not fear you are not ready because we all tend to figure it out as we go.
[13:30] While she is sharing data on what is going on in the housingmarket Leslie generally also offers some great insights into what it is that is driving those numbers. So, what does she think the biggest trends are that are impacting California’s housing? The biggest factor that dictates where the market is heading is the inventory. The housing supply in California is currently lacking, partly due to a lack of new construction and partly because of a demographic shift. Boomers are not moving out of their homes as often and there are a few transactions.
[17:27] If there is a lack of homes on the market why are we not building more? There are solutions but generally people are against these options, due to the lack of infrastructure to support such growth. As a result, working class families and millennials are moving out and moving to areas where there is more development, cheap retirement options and/or strong job markets eg. Texas, Oregon, Washington, Arizona and Nevada. For people choosing to stay in California, they need to re-evaluate what the American dream of home ownership will look like.
[24:06] How has Leslie’s job changed since she started in the 80’s? The internet and access to information has changed some aspects but the one thing that has never changed is the importance of communication.
[28:30] The Bay area, characterized by Leslie as a "petri dish", is an interesting location to keep an eye on as it is experiencing job growth, household growth and income growth but no housing growth. What will the implications of that look like?
[30:45] Matt wraps up with a quick story about being new to real estate and hearing Leslie speak.
Thank you for joining us for this week’s episode. We hope you enjoyed tuning in and join us again next week for more San Francisco real estate stories!
See for privacy and opt-out information.

#43: Courtship Dances & Horrible Muffins

This week on Escrow Out Loud, our San Francisco Real Estate podcast, we pick up where we left of last week for part 3 of our 3-part interview with Kevin and Pete, (catch up on part two at
[00:50] How long did the whole process take from the start to getting the site permit? The permitting process itself took two and a half years, which was quite a bit longer than expected. There was an unanticipated issue with variance. Because the house is sitting far back on the property they had to go through the variance process in addition to the regular permitting process.
[04:54] In the competitive San Francisco house market part of buying a property involves doing, what Pete calls, a sort of a courtship dance. Good relationships can help with a positive outcome, but still, at the end of the day it’s the numbers that do most of the talking.
[06:43] From a seller’s perspective staging of homes creates an impact and shows the property in the best light. While generally staging a property means neutralising it to appeal to a wider audience, in today’s market highlighting the property’s personality and using a bolder style when staging a home is more commonly seen in certain parts of San Francisco.
[09:53] When Kevin and Pete decided it was great time to sell their previous property, it wasn’t only due to the market blowing up, although this was an added bonus. A number of other factors fell into place. From a personal perspective they were looking to move on; they were both looking for a single-family home and Kevin was looking for a new project. A single-family home is quieter and offers more privacy. BUT, San Francisco is still San Francisco! It’s never too quiet and neighbours are never too far away.
[15:10] Looking back would they go through all of it again? Undeniably they have learned a lot through the process, each lesson informing their next interaction. What are some great lessons learned? Tolerance, learning to relax and go with the process, and of course now they’ve learned to worry about a whole set of different things.
[15:57] Kevin started out by doing graphics and branding for interiors. He has done some really cool projects, we might have to bring him back to hear more about Sawyers design and environmental graphics and branding in San Francisco as well as interior design.
Thank you for joining us for this week’s episode. We hope you enjoyed tuning in and join us again next week for more San Francisco real estate stories!
See for privacy and opt-out information.

#42: Planning Malarkey, Pete and Kevin Part 2

This week on Escrow Out Loud, our San Francisco Real Estate podcast, we pick up where we left off last week for part 2 of our 3-part interview with Kevin and Pete. To catch up on part one check out our previous episode Avocado-Green Appliances and Faux Brick.
[00:21] As we mentioned last week, house hunting with Kevin and Pete is an enlightening experience, as each of them assesses a property from their own unique angle; Pete is an electrical engineer and focuses on wiring while Kevin has design background and focuses on the space and flow of the property, envisioning the redesign potential. Even the slightest tweaks to the layout can have a huge impact on the overall feel and function of the property. What are some examples of strange layouts we have seen?
[02:36] The planning process for a renovation project can be long and convoluted. The planning, zoning and building permit applications are supposed to be determined in a fair and objective process for everyone involved – in theory. In practice, what happens is people find ways to game the system. What’s more, there also seems to be a lot of room for interpretation when it comes to enforcing certain rules. What are some examples of this?
[06:49] One issue the city planning department is understandably concerned about is setting precedents that can later be exploited by other people. What about using the approach of ignoring all the rules, doing what you want and just paying the fine at the end?
[09:13] We talk do it yourself foundations. Brick vs concrete foundations and why it may be a good idea to get the foundation checked by a professional!
[13:29] Kevin and Pete’s original plans have changed significantly compared to what they finally ended up with, but Kevin explains this is a normal part of the process. A better sense of budget constraints and the neighborhood, as well as the planning process itself, all informed the final design. Once the planning signed off on Kevin and Pete’s plan and they got their site permit – which included working with the gabled roof design challenge – they could start construction of their modern house that was still in keeping with the feel of the neighborhood.
[15:30] Establishing good relationships with the neighbors in advance of starting construction was invaluable in terms of making the whole experience easier and making sure they were part of the close-knit neighborhood after construction is over. Kevin and Pete made sure to include their neighbors in the process and were respectful of their concerns. Not everyone prescribes to this approach, however. To wrap up today’s episode we share some less pleasant experiences we’ve had with disgruntled individuals.
Thank you for joining us for this week’s episode. We hope you enjoyed tuning in and join us again next week for part 3 of our interview with Kevin and Pete!
See for privacy and opt-out information.

#41: Avocado-Green Appliances and Faux Brick

This week on Escrow Out Loud, our San Francisco Real Estate podcast, we interview our dear friends, long time clients and accomplished individuals in their own right, Kevin (from Sawyers Design) and Pete.
[00:53] The very first purchase we worked on together with Kevin and Pete was many years ago, back in 2003. Kevin is an interior designer and has a great eye for looking at homes from a design perspective. What does he look for in a home? And what does having "good bones" mean in terms of houses?
[03:41] Upon first seeing their potential home Kevin was flooded with ideas of what he would love to do with it. Of course, these ideas evolve and grow when you live in a space. The first step was to remodel the kitchen and the bathroom.
[05:10] While Kevin is looking at homes with his designer eye, what is Pete doing?
[7:14] Kevin and Pete lived through both a condo conversion as well as an interior remodel. But the remodel was a somewhat more traumatic experience. One of the things they have learned is to ask a lot of questions! Britton and Pete trade contractor stories, and she shares why she chose the higher bid over all the others when she was doing her remodel and how a detailed bid meant coming in within 1-2% of the budget.
[10:28] Living in the property while it’s being remodeled is not a pleasant experience - just ask Britton, Kevin and Pete. If you can manage it, stay somewhere else. At least until you have running water in the house again. Another good piece of advice is to not put all your hopes and dreams into a property until you know you have it. The market can be competitive and sometimes disappointments happen. And sometimes missing out can be a blessing in disguise. TICs can get complicated quick. What are some things to be aware of when looking for TIC partners?
[17:23] Vague statements come true: Matt and Britton do have experiences and relationships which can be an advantage in the home buying process. Kevin and Pete do some reminiscing on opportunities lost and the good batting average they’ve had working with Matt and Britton.
Thank you for joining us for this week’s episode. We hope you enjoyed tuning in and join us again next week for part 2 of our interview with Kevin and Pete!
See for privacy and opt-out information.

#40: (Online) Safety First

When a wealthy Nigerian man emails us asking for a million dollar loan, we can safely assume we are being scammed. But not all scams are as easy to spot. This week on Escrow Out Loud, our San Francisco Real Estate podcast, we talk about online scams and fraud.
[02:02] Bank robbing is risky and often not very lucrative, cybercrime on the other hand can not only be performed remotely but it typically also has a much larger payoff. With the huge figures attached to San Francisco real estate deals and money being wired from buyers to title companies to sellers, is it any wonder it has become an area of interest for sophisticated online scammers. Their goal is often to hack into the email accounts involved in the transaction. That’s a problem. Why? Because we can’t always tell if our e-mail (or anyone else's who’s involved) has been hacked!
[04:34] One way they can then get a hold of our money is by sending fake wiring instructions. Title companies, banks and other companies attacked have beefed up their security leaving brokerages and consumers as the weak point of entry. While there are benefits in terms of speed and convenience in dealing on-line, it comes with a drawback in terms of security.
[07:39] E-mail is a very insecure platform that shouldn’t be used for personal documents. If you are involved in real estate transactions, we recommend strengthening security on the account you will be using. This includes using two factor authentication on the said email account as well as using a different password for your email than you use for anything else. Because we are entrusted with a lot of sensitive information we take security very seriously. What are some precautions we take?
[11:50] What if you don’t want to use email but still want to be digital? There are some other options available. Slack, iMessage, WhatsApp, Skype are all widely available and encrypted end-to-end. Another thing you can do is make sure to call the escrow company to confirm wire instructions before sending or receiving a wire. Just make sure you don’t use the phone number given in the email instructions! Get it from a reliable source. We share some other things to look out for and Britton shares her personal experiences with wire transfer when she was purchasing her ‘real home’. (You can hear more about Britton’s real home in Episode 24: A Real Home)
[17:07] While you can wire safely if you take all the precautions, what if you don’t want to wire at all? Are there other options? Yep. You can use a cashier’s check. Now that we have scared everybody silly, we can wrap up today’s episode! If anybody has more questions don’t hesitate to e-mail us or download our pdf for more information. Stay safe everybody!
Thank you for joining us for this week’s episode. We hope you enjoyed tuning in and join us again next week for more San Francisco real estate stories!
See for privacy and opt-out information.

#39: Does a Closet a Bedroom Make?

What makes a bedroom? A bed? A closet? A window? This week on Escrow Out Loud, our San Francisco Real Estate podcast, we talk about the requirements that a room needs to meet to be considered a bedroom.
[01:15] Some think that a room needs to have a closet and a window, but what are the official requirements set by the city building code? We've seen a lot of interesting spaces being marketed as bedrooms, some of which may be considered "illegal". San Francisco has a rich architectural history and layouts have changed significantly over the years. How do Victorian layouts compare to today's ideas of what a bedroom is supposed to be? Listen to our Open Concept Thanksgiving! episode for more on this topic.
[06:08] So, if it's not a bedroom what is it? How do we define these extra spaces? The extra nooks and crannies are often marketed by developers as +1, but what does that really mean?
[09:06] To wrap up, we explain why we believe it's always better to under-promise and over-deliver.
Thank you for joining us for this week’s episode. We hope you enjoyed tuning in and join us again next week for more San Francisco real estate stories!
See for privacy and opt-out information.

#38: April Market Update

Prices are up, volume is down, buyers are exhausted and sellers are...? A smaller pie can cause some awful table manners, and all of this is causing some agents to behave very badly indeed. Welcome to this week’s episode of Escrow Out Loud, our San Francisco Real Estate podcast.
[00:20] House prices continue their rise in 2018. The median sale price has doubled since 2013 and now sits at 1.61 million dollars. Doing the math, this means that in order to afford a mid-priced home in SF one needs to have a down-payment of 300k and an annual income of about $300,000. However. Let’s not forget that in the current market a 20% down payment regularly gets beat by much larger down payments or all cash offers. This is a difficult market for buyers. So difficult in fact, that we know at least one agent who currently only works with sellers.
[03:08] So, what is some advice we can share? Most importantly, be realistic, and do not engage in magical thinking! That reminds us of one of our previous episodes: Opportunity or Offal, Off-MLS Sales in San Francisco. Buying a home is a very personal, emotional journey. It is understandable for buyers to want to fall in love with, what will potentially become, their new home. But in this market, the competition is fierce and sometimes there will be disappointment. So, try not get too attached.
[06:26] With properties always selling for figures well above the asking price. What is the right way to price properties? If the advertised price is set artificially low, trying to guess what that real figure will be can be infuriating. We discuss the arguments for pricing realistically vs pricing for an assumed markup on the advertised price.
[10:30] This is one of the great things about being a team, where agents can have an honest conversation about listings and offer an additional perspective when trying to gauge property values. This brings us to our next point and this is one we have dedicated a previous podcast episode to: Agents Behaving Badly. With so many sellers leaving and there being a limited amount of business to go around at the moment, agents are perhaps engaging in behaviors they wouldn’t otherwise. An example of this are pre-emptive offers. Do we have to present all offers if get them? Find the answer to that question in Ep15: Discriminating Sellers: Sell Only to Short People or Offers Anytime? This also ties into the Agency Disclosure episode.
Thank you for joining us for this week’s episode. We hope you enjoyed tuning in and join us again next week for more San Francisco real estate stories!
See for privacy and opt-out information.

#37: This Month's Mayor's Race

For the last three months just about all anybody has been talking about in San Francisco is the upcoming mayoral election. So naturally, this week on Escrow Out Loud, our San Francisco Real Estate podcast, we talk about politics!
[00:20] What an eventful year it has been so far. We kick things off with Aaron Peskin, his recent criticism of the San Francisco’s Fire Department, and the role he played in getting London Breed deposed as the interim mayor.
[02:08] So who are the candidates for San Francisco mayor? There are eight in all, with the front-running four being: London Breed, Jane Kim, Mark Leno and Angela Alioto. Because most people in San Francisco fall somewhere on the progressive liberal political scale, identity politics often come into play during election time. But is this going to be the defining factor? The big question of the race is: Will identity politics win out over policy? According to the latest polls, the favorites to win are London Breed and Jane Kim. In the event of a close race, San Francisco uses a ranked choice voting; how does this work?
[08:26] Some of the big issues that people will be voting on are housing, municipal services and homelessness. It seems that being a ‘flaming lefty’ is the easy route to take in San Francisco, but is this approach the answer to everything? Britton explains what her reasons for supporting London Breed are, including the fact that she is smart, realistic and has the right motivations in undertaking such a challenging role. The increase in homelessness and a growing sense of disconnect in the community are just some of the changes we’ve seen in the city, so there is a lot on the plate for whoever takes up the position next.
Thank you for joining us for this week’s episode. We hope you enjoyed this episode and join us again next week for more San Francisco real estate stories!
See for privacy and opt-out information.

#36: Meet Micki (part 2 of 2)

This week on Escrow Out Loud, our San Francisco Real Estate podcast, we pick up where we left of last week for part 2 of Matt’s interview with Britton’s Mum Micki.
[00:20] Micki has had a lot of great real estate experiences over the years, but she does recall one occasion that was just awful. While trying to sell their house in Austin, Micki and her husband came across a snake oil salesman masquerading as a real estate agent. Having already singed a contract with a particular brokerage, the manager refused to let them out of their contract, but luckily, after voicing their complaints, they had a new agent assigned to them and she was brilliant – she managed to rebuild trust and humanized the whole experience. Is it a coincidence that she was previously a nurse?
[04:40] There are many different parts to a real estate process. Different agents can excel at different parts but the stand outs, they are good at most or all of it. It is also what makes Matt and Britton such a great team - they complement each other bringing their particular strength to the table.
[06:51] How has the real estate experience changed over the decades? We have come a long way in some ways. Did you know that not so long ago, the income of a female of a child-bearing age wasn’t taken into account for a mortgage application?
[08:37] Collecting rubber bands and porcelain animals! Britton had some interesting hobbies growing up, but what discouraged her from her childhood dream of becoming a veterinarian? To wrap it all up, Micki shares some personal stories about Britton.
Thank you for joining us for this week’s episode. We hope you enjoyed this interview and join us again next week for more San Francisco real estate stories!
See for privacy and opt-out information.

#35: Meet Micki (part 1 of 2)

Britton’s mum Micki joins us this week on Escrow Out Loud, our San Francisco Real Estate podcast. Similarly to Matt’s parents, Micki and her husband Bill moved across the country on several occasions to explore interesting opportunities at work. In part one of Matt's interview with Micki, she shares their home ownership journey from Marin, to Austin and all the adventures in between.
[01:02] We start the journey back at the beginning. The year was 1971 and, after looking at some options in San Francisco (SF) - their preferred location, Micki and her husband decided to venture out to Marin County where the housing was more affordable. They met a fantastic agent at an open house in Gough Street and he recommended another great agent who worked with them in Marin. However, after an exciting job opportunity beckoned Bill to Anchorage, Alaska, they decided to do the unthinkable and sell their house without an agent!
[04:34] With two full-price offers on the very first day, they had no trouble selling the house. In fact, they found the perfect buyers. Not only did they love the house, but they also bought their car and even adopted their cat, Sebastian – who would have hated Anchorage. What a great story! With things moving so quickly, Bill moved to Alaska ahead of the family and Micki entrusted him to find their next home with just these simple instructions: “You know what I don’t like”. Some years later, the family was on the move again, this time to Larchmont, New York. They spent many years here and Britton attended high school, grammar school and middle school in Larchmont. But soon enough another job offer called and Bill moved out to Austin ahead of Micki to look for their next home. He found a house according to the same instructions as he had previously.
[09:45] For most people, buying a house can be an overwhelming and somewhat scary experience. A great agent can make the whole process less stressful. What’s more, the best agents take interest in their clients as individuals and often friendships can develop. So how did Britton go from being a high school English teacher to a real estate agent and what role did Micki play in making that happen? Also, is it true that former teachers make the best real estate agents? Because the focus of a great realtor is to help people, the theory/philosophy that the best realtors come from helping professions such as teaching, and nursing makes a lot of sense.
[15:09] It is unsettling to see, that sometimes, as people get older and go through significant changes in their lives, it can leave them vulnerable to being taken advantage of. A trend we often see in SF is people downsizing and moving back to the city, looking for smaller homes with better access to amenities, most importantly because human interaction is so important at any age and it can rejuvenate people who were lonely and living alone once they are surrounded by people again.
Thank you for joining us for this week’s episode. We hope you enjoyed part one this interview and join us again next week for part two!
See for privacy and opt-out information.