THE SECOND STORY | October 11th, 2018

What makes a GREAT agent?

I get some very good articles via email. This is one that showed up this week. Although I don’t know the writer, I’m helping him spread the word.

This commentary is by John Wendorff (John Wendorff is chief encouragement officer with The Personal Marketing Company. For more information, please visit

“G” Is for Gratitude
Long-term success requires the ability to be grateful. Gratitude is key to success, not only for the real estate business,  but any business. Ideally, you’re working with people you enjoy, and you believe your work makes a difference in other people’s lives.

Remind yourself that what you do isn’t just about money; you’re helping people solve housing challenges. Be grateful for your skillset and your abilities.

“R” Is for Responsiveness
The responsive agent gets referrals and repeat business. It isn’t enough to just return the call, email or text. It’s about responding in a timely and relevant manner. Is this client anxious? Do they need a lot of hand-holding?

Generally speaking, prospective clients spend about three days deciding which agent to use. Strive to follow up with every email, text and phone call within one hour. It’s a discipline, and while difficult, the more you do it, the more you’ll set yourself apart in the marketplace.

“E” Is for Enthusiastic
You’re excited about your opportunities and your solutions. Being excited about a transaction means that you enjoy working with these individuals, they’re ready to buy and you have solutions to fit them exactly.

If you’re not excited, ask yourself whether you’re the right person for that opportunity. Sometimes, my lack of enthusiasm is a sign that it belongs in somebody else’s hands. Stay focused on helping people solve their problems in the very best way you know how.

“A” Is for Awareness
Put people first and the transaction second. One of the hardest things about real estate is staying aware of all the different pieces—regulatory, financial and marketing. We forget that this business is about people and our ability to read them. Are they defensive? Are they indecisive? The ability to understand people and respond appropriately makes all the difference. Without awareness, you might come to the end of the transaction only to find that you lost the people halfway through.

Every time you meet with people, fully engage them. Be aware of where they are mentally and emotionally so that you can empathize and help make their dream a reality.

“T” Is for Targeted
Focus on a specific area of the marketplace. Many agents believe that any listing is better than no listing—but without a target, you’ll deplete your energy so rapidly that you’ll never be able to manage everything.

Pick an area, a type of home or a type of client. Handoff other prospects to other agents. Be the agent who knows more about a specific neighborhood or a particular kind of client than anybody else. You cannot be a great agent without some type of targeting.

Alameda Real Estate this Week

New 18

Pending 15

Sold 14

Total Active (incl 3 active/contingent) 59

Have a great weekend! My phone tells me it should be warming up!

best, marilyn


THE SECOND STORY | October 4th, 2018

CTA (cover their ‘ass–‘)

Mortgage brokers and traditional banks are in the biz of making $$$. And no wonder the complaints above exist. These days most everybody wants everything quicker and with less paperwork, BUT they also want folks to explain what they are signing. That’s when an excellent escrow officer has a place in this lineup. But good escrow officers have a stack of docs for every client(s).

The above complaints have been around since I’ve been in the biz. In that period we’ve seen ups, downs, huge interest rates (coming through 18% when I first started the biz) and market crashes.

When interest rates were too high….we structured the contract that might have had some of the following: 2nd loans carried by the sellers, wrap-around loans, short-term financing carried by the sellers.

One time I had a contract that wanted the seller to replace the brick foundation…and he did! Took a couple of months but we got the place sold, otherwise he wouldn’t have sold it because lenders weren’t lending on brick foundations.

Now that rates are inching up…we hear complaints from those who are new to the market. It’s life…I usually tell them what real high rates mean (give them those examples). Agents and lenders work within whatever parameters we can to legally make the transaction flow: jump over the bumps in the road, and ‘close the deal.’

Alameda Real Estate this Week

Tues Broker Tour  14

New 12

Pending 3

Sold 10

Price change 5

BOM (back on market) 3

Total Active 58 incl 2 AC

Total Pending 17

That’s a wrap! Have a nice autumn-y weekend! Let me know if you have questions about the market. You can see by the stats above…DOM is getting longer, BOMs are happening, and the sales have really slowed down.

And based on my conversations with SF agents, local agents, and agents up and down CA….this is slow down is the real deal. I’ll say it once again. If the Seller sets the price too high, Buyer’s will laugh and walk away. The Buyers actually set the price. Get it?

best, marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | September 27th, 2018

Ride the wave or wait for another set…

I took this photo

12-9-2009 while watching the surfers at Jaws, Maui.


Below is a (slightly modified) excerpt that I wrote to a client, who recently sold her house.

“I think the market may be going the way you want it to go. You were able to ride the wave and kick out of it nearly at the top. You may be able to paddle into a wave that won’t be so big, with lower prices rolling in. With some foresight and with the hindsight you have, it should work perfectly for all of you.”  

This is my way of comparing real estate to surfing.


Tonight I had the privilege of joining a local mortgage broker, and one of the best-ever escrow officers, for dinner! It was a thoughtful, positive, hysterical (at times) conversation.

As we were comparing notes about our businesses, we all came to the same conclusion…no thing is ever simple in real estate..always twisting and turning… and some shouting. And when it is simple….be grateful.

We need to be ready to expect the unexpected, and be able to tap into our resources for solutions…or consider anything that may be a solution. I guess that’s why I like it so much….

Alameda Real Estate this Week

Lots of new listings (the rush before the holidays), plus longer  days on the market, and more withdrawals and cancelations of the listings.

New 18

Pending 10

Sold 6

Total Active 64 (including 4 A/C, 1 BOM, 5 PCH)

Total Pending 55

Contact me if you have real estate market questions….or even if you have some comments about where the market is heading!

Best, marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | September 20th, 2018

Shopping A-town

I’m pretty predictable and not too fancy. I love the shopping bags that I’m able to stuff inside my numerous backpacks (which is what I do  splurge on). But I only wear 1 purse/backpack at a time.

Here’s an example of the giveaways from the various business districts within our town. (No, TJ’s is not giving anything away and you can see where I shop – whether on my bike or in my car.)

You know when summer is over and when fall is right around the corner…because the Alameda real estate market has been getting new listings all over this island (relatively speaking).

Buyers want to move into a new (to them) property before the holidays set in. And the Sellers are thinking…get me outta here!

Once again…motivation is the rule for both buyers and sellers. And seller’s (5 of them) have contingent sales on their property.

That means the Buyer(s) won’t close until their own property  closes first, and then they’ve got the cash, loan, and whatever to move forward on their new (to them) purchase. If either party is too stuck on their list/buy price…that property won’t sell. And it’s off to the races for the sellers and back to the grind for the buyers.

Alameda Real Estate this Week!

New 18

Pending 2

Sold 10

Total Active 56 including 5 Active Contingent and 1 BOM

Total pending 53 including 1 court confirmation, and 1 subject to lender approval

OK! That’s a wrap!

Enjoy the weekend….days are getting shorter!

Please contact me if you have questions (or if you have the answers) about the A-town marketplace!

best, marilyn

check out my ‘for fun” blog… 

THE SECOND STORY | September 13th, 2018

Flood maps? In A-town? yep…..

Check out my ‘for fun’ blog…

Alameda Flood Maps…. If you are thinking about buying, or actually own property(ies) in Alameda, this subject will affect you.

Alameda Realtors have a monthly marketing meeting. The guests at the meeting, last Tuesday, were 2 knowledgeable city engineers, trying to explain the issue in less than 1 hour: the why’s, the wherefore’s, the what-to-do’s about living in a flood plain.

Some of 94501 and 94502 are affected…not all. How will it affect those who want to dig down to expand a property’s living space? What are the rules that dictate owners need to purchase Federal Flood Insurance?

I’ve recently started including some portions of the Alameda City website, for local disclosures that the Realtors don’t have at this time:

-the flood insurance issue (this will be addressed with our Natural Hazards Disclosures (issued by various companies).

-the Federal Building (next to Crab Cove), which the Feds will be giving to the city and what it will be morphed into.

-what the School Board is doing regarding the high schools (merge or not to merge)

-what is going on with Historic Alameda High; about Paden School – those workers were working overtime on the weekends this summer….etc, etc. What about Lum School?

Lots of questions, and you could probably think of lots more. ugh.

Alameda Real Estate this Week

New 11

Pending 10

BOM 1 (back on market)

PCH 3 (price change)

Sold 6

Total active listings 49

Total pending sales 50

OK! Have a fun weekend! Contact me if you have questions about this shifting market. My answers may be vague, but I will do whatever is necessary to find out an answer from a party, source, person, company that I trust.

best, marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | September 6th, 2018

A-town….how do we get on and off this island…..

…if there’s a natural (earthquake, flood) or a man-made disaster?

IMHO…(and my opinions are very simplistic):

-there won’t be another tube (too expensive to build and not sure Oakland would want us interfering on their land).

-there won’t be another bridge (too expensive to build and not sure Oakland would want us interfering on their land).

Oh yeah, how about some water taxis? All day and all night long. Yeah, those are a lot more doable.

Why aren’t our elected official talking about stuff that matters to almost everybody, instead of some of those elected officials working their way up the food chain?






On a lighter note…I went to lunch with a friend a couple of weeks ago, and took these photos on Park St, and this is happening all over town!

I love this!

Alameda Real Estate this Week

New 15

Pending 15

this week

Sold 5

Withdrawn/canceled 2

Total Active

(the above includes 2 Active Contingent, 1 Back on Market, 3 Price Changes)

Total Pending 56

Hope you had a non-labor day, and I hope you’ll reach out to me if you have questions about this shifting market!

best, marilyn

Check out  (my for-fun blog).


THE SECOND STORY | August 30th, 2018

Ch-ch-changes in the real estate market?

There seem to be some changes/shifts, in the real-estate market. Inventory is increasing (not very dramatic but it is happening) all over the US.

I believe it was a Zillow article that I was reading this week and 12% of the existing listings had price decreases, in order to get ‘buyers’ to show up with their agents at the front door of a listing. The National Association of Realtors says basically the same thing.

Alameda is no different.

This week I wrote to a client “You were able to ride the wave and kick out of it nearly at the top. You may be able to paddle into a wave that won’t be so big, with lower prices rolling in. With some foresight and with the hindsight, this market should work perfectly for you and your family.”

(Somehow I can’t get my photos from my phone to upload to my gmail and then post them to my blog! I’ll deal with that tomorrow!)

Alameda Real Estate this Week

Broker Tour Tues 11

New 12

Price Change 3

Total Active 47

Total Pending 45

Sold  10 

Let me know if you have questions about this market….it’s a bit wacky out there right now. It’s not just A-town. Maybe a shift for the market is in the prevailing winds!

Have a great weekend! best, marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | August 23rd, 2018

Real estate is real life….

Rejection…nobody likes it.

Sometimes real estate comes easy…sometimes it doesn’t.  We need the downs to appreciate the ups. And we need the ups to realize that there is nothing that can really take us down. And we can still change our minds, keep on track, and steer a steady course. That puts the real back into real estate!

Alameda Real Estate This Week

Broker Tour Tues 12

New 22

Pending 15

Sold 9

Total active listings on the market: 47 including 1 Withdrawn/canceled, 1 BOM (back on market) and 1 AC (active/contingent on selling another property).

If you have questions about the market, let me know.  I won’t make up an answer, but I will try to find a person, book, historian, or somebody who grew up here, who may know!

Best, m


THE SECOND STORY | August 16th, 2018

Wha’s new? I’m part of a (trade) deal!

I normally list links to properties, like New, Pending, Sold etc.

This time, I’m saying “I’m new!” Mostly nobody has noticed this, except if you read my signature at the end of any email, or maybe look real close at my FOR SALE and OPEN HOUSE signs, or at my blog posts.

For about 6 weeks I’ve been an RE/MAX Broker Associate. Those of us who hung our licenses under the Fusion Real Estate Network banner…have been sold(?) to RE/MAX Gold, which is also based out of Sacto, just like Fusion.

It’s been a very warm welcome from the ‘higher-ups’ at RE/MAX Gold and all things considered (and I never did consider this), the company has embraced us wonderfully.

Does anybody pay attention to this?

Fusion is going full blast into other industries, doing what they do best….marketing and promoting…advising biz owners about what should  or shouldn’t be done! Fusion will do it all.

The good news is that Fusion will continue to market me…with my own logo, my cards, my stationery, and with my service mark “RESULTS….exceeding the challenges.” And RE/MAX supports that because of the ‘deal.’

I’m working in Alameda just like I’ve done for decades with all of its charm: Victorians, new homes, 3 story condos, the Gold Coast elegance, and the small-town feel with the beach, boats, and windsurfers surrounding us. Plus my Transaction Coordinator, Edgar, has made the move to RE/MAX, and my Advisor, Amy, still plays a major role for me at Fusion. I love them both because they’re the best ever, and they’re part of the transaction/deal.

OK. That’s it. Let get on with the blog post.

Alameda Real Estate this Week

New 16

Pending 4


PCH price change 1

Sold 10

W/C withdrawn/canceled 1

Total active listings 44

Total pending listings  42

Enjoy the weekend….let me know if you have questions about the A-town market!

best, marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | August 9th, 2018

What the hoa!

Sunset this evening, through the smoke-filled skies. Sun breaks through the smoke and appears to sit on the fog in San Francisco.

Homeowners Associations…..definitely have a place in real estate. Whether it’s a master HOA governing a bunch of smaller HOAs in one large community…(like Alameda’s Harbor Bay Isle has), or a small group (like 4 units), maintenance still needs to get done. And that’s what you’re paying for…the maintenance: to keep things going instead of letting them go!

One lesson that I learned last year: if I were a developer and I needed to put an HOA in place….I would develop an odd number of units: like 5, or 49, or 199! That way you won’t have much of a chance to get a tie vote (assuming all of the residents’ vote) to approve any needed maintenance/corrections that need to be done, in a timely manner.

That is what an HOA does….govern, and hopefully, those on the HOA Board get enough bids to make a decision and then move forward!

And if you don’t fall into the above category…please make a fix-it or repair/replace list and post it on the refrigerator so you can see it, and knock those items off one at a time..and if you can afford it, do several maintenance jobs in a row! Believe me, you will sleep better every night!

Alameda Real Estate this Week

Tues Tour 10

New 17 

Pend 8

Sold 7

Total active 38 

(including 2 Active Contingent, and 2 Price Changes)

Total pending 53

Contact me if you need info about what’s going on out there. I’m no fortune teller…I just call it like I see it, and that’s based on recent history, time of year, and interest rates.

Have a fun weekend, and please keep a good thought for those who are involved with the fires, up and down the state. This may be the perfect time to pay it forward to those who are affected…just saying.

best, marilyn

check out my ‘for fun’ blog…