Luxury Homes Wine Country by Kathy Luebcke
Kathy Luebcke
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Napa For Sale by Owner Signs may be an Endangered Species

9-4-fsboThey may be getting rarer, but you still see some Napa “For Sale by Owner” signs from time to time. Sometimes they signify an owner who, truth be told, simply doesn’t mind letting it be known that he or she isn’t in much of a hurry to sell the place. This can be true if it’s an extraordinary example of its architectural style, or beautifully landscaped and maintained, or in other ways, from curb to chimney-top, obviously a prime piece of local property. This is a For Sale by Owner anomaly though; you don’t see many of them.

A far greater number of them (‘FSBOs,’ for short) are average, run-of-the-mill homes—or even clearly neglected ones (in the latter case, the For Sale by Owner designation invites passersby to assume the sign really means “Fire Sale!!!”).

But for the everyday-looking Napa For Sale by Owner properties, that sign out front has to make you wonder. Currently, 88% of homes are sold through a real estate agent or broker—a percentage that’s been steadily rising for more than a decade. What would impel the owner to take a route that the vast majority of sellers avoid?

There’s often a history behind the sign: a major experience that prompted the go-it-alone venture. That story usually falls into one of two general categories—and they’re polar opposites!

HAPPY STORY!

This camp had a pleasure cruise the last time they sold their home. Their agent put together a listing, and BANG! That was it! Showings by the end of the week, and SOLD in days! For the full asking price! A dream closing with no unexpected details, gifts to and from the excited buyers, and nice notes still exchanged at the holidays…

The Happy Story takeaway: selling a house is so simple, why in the world would you gift a commission to a third party? It’s so easy, why not save thousands of dollars? Up goes the ‘For Sale by Owner’ sign…

UNHAPPY STORY!

These folks found themselves all but victimized by a previous home sale. Everything went haywire from the get-go. They may have started on the wrong foot, assuming that every licensed agent is equally qualified and offers the same level of service. From there, it was all downhill. Bad communication, missed appointments, showings to loud-mouthed prospects who made it clear they were not about to pay anything like that asking price. Maybe a change of agents, but the eventual sale, after those lengthy missteps (and perhaps a technical hitch or two at closing) resulted in a disappointing sale price.

The Unhappy Story takeaway: I bet I can do this better, myself! Up goes the Napa For Sale by Owner sign…

The current national statistics seem to indicate that the FSBO sign itself is a lot more likely to engender an Unhappy Story result. A typical For Sale by Owner home, if it sold at all, yielded just 80% of what agent-assisted sales brought. Not to mention the hassle of foregoing all the technical and marketing help a good agent brings. The first key to your own Happy Story is to find the right agent—one with a history of Happy Story endings.

This takeaway: call me!


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  1. Photo of 717 Fitch Street, Healdsburg, CA 95448 (MLS # 21824593)
    21
    3 beds,  2 full baths
    2,600 sqft   lot 15,686 sqft
    Walk Score® 72
    Listing provided by Alain-Martin Pierret, Healdsburg Sotheby's Int'l Realty
    MLS 21824593
  2. Photo of 19908 Mountain Meadow, Hidden Valley Lake, CA 95467 (MLS # 21824733)
    29
    3 beds,  3 full baths
    2,591 sqft   lot 23,448 sqft
    Walk Score® 2
    Listing provided by Jen Mullin, Century 21 North Bay Alliance
    MLS 21824733
  3. Photo of 3091 Pecan Circle, Fairfield, CA 94533 (MLS # 21824578)
    41
    4 beds,  3 full baths
    2,261 sqft   lot 8,224 sqft
    Walk Score® 15
    Listing provided by Sherri Duggan, Coldwell Banker Kappel Gateway Realty
    MLS 21824578
  4. Photo of 1713 Ventura Way, Suisun City, CA 94585 (MLS # 21824187)
    25
    3 beds,  2 full baths
    1,434 sqft   lot 5,998 sqft
    Walk Score® 7
    Listing provided by Brenda Comfort, California Investment Properties
    MLS 21824187
  5. Photo of 263 Forrest Avenue, Fairfax, CA 94930 (MLS # 21824063)
    10
    2 beds,  1 full bath
    1,022 sqft   lot 6,190 sqft
    Walk Score® 53
    Listing provided by Steve Sekhon, Compass
    MLS 21824063
  6. Photo of 46 Bedford Cove, San Rafael, CA 94901 (MLS # 21824725)
    26
    2 beds,  2 full, 1 half baths
    1,595 sqft   lot 2,448 sqft
    Walk Score® 25
    Listing provided by Stefan Schermerhorn, Holmes Burrell Real Estate
    MLS 21824725
  7. Photo of 119 Mica Drive, Vallejo, CA 94589 (MLS # 21823063)
    24
    4 beds,  2 full, 1 half baths
    1,671 sqft   lot 5,070 sqft
    Walk Score® 23
    Listing provided by Judith Urbanik, RE/MAX Gold
    MLS 21823063
  8. Photo of 1371 Sirah Court, Ukiah, CA 95482 (MLS # 21824712)
    13
    3 beds,  2 full baths
    1,656 sqft   lot 8,276 sqft
    Walk Score® 39
    Listing provided by Pat Williams, AMC Realty
    MLS 21824712
  9. Photo of 4096 Peaceful Glen Road, Vacaville, CA 95688 (MLS # 21824567)
    47
    4 beds,  3 full baths
    2,959 sqft   lot 4.70 ac
    Walk Score® 7
    Listing provided by Julie Coffey, Century 21 MM
    MLS 21824567
  10. Photo of 2047 Dubloon Court, Bodega Bay, CA 94923 (MLS # 21822814)
    42
    3 beds,  2 full baths
    1,540 sqft   lot 10,350 sqft
    Walk Score® 5
    Listing provided by Steven Hecht, Artisan Sotheby's Int'l Realty
    MLS 21822814
  11. Photo of Santa Rosa, CA 95401 (MLS # 21816759)
    28
    3 beds,  2 full baths
    1,702 sqft   lot 9,583 sqft
    Walk Score® 66
    Listing provided by Richard Frank, Sterling California Properties
    MLS 21816759
  12. Photo of 901 Meadowlark Drive, Fairfield, CA 94533 (MLS # 21824703)
    11
    3 beds,  1 full bath
    1,024 sqft   lot 5,663 sqft
    Walk Score® 23
    Listing provided by Michael Hulsey, Windermere Hulsey & Associates
    MLS 21824703
  13. Photo of 1821 Mini Drive, Vallejo, CA 94589 (MLS # 21821348)
    13
    3 beds,  3 full baths
    1,300 sqft   lot 4,792 sqft
    Walk Score® 37
    Listing provided by Zee Magee, ARS Realty & Financial Service
    MLS 21821348
  14. Photo of 113 Villa Court, Fairfield, CA 94533 (MLS # 21824694)
    13
    2 beds,  1 full, 1 half baths
    968 sqft   lot 1,742 sqft
    Walk Score® 21
    Listing provided by Cecile McNaughton, Greater Solano Real Estate Services
    MLS 21824694
  15. Photo of 927 Broadway Street, Fairfield, CA 94533 (MLS # 21824610)
    18
    3 beds,  1 full bath
    1,717 sqft   lot 8,712 sqft
    Walk Score® 54
    Listing provided by Justina Ortiz, Sequoia Real Estate
    MLS 21824610
  16. Photo of 46650 Fish Rock Road, Gualala, CA 95445 (MLS # 21819506)
    15
    3 beds,  2 full baths
    lot 1.04 ac
    Walk Score® 6
    Listing provided by Cassie Henderson, Kennedy & Associates
    MLS 21819506
  17. Photo of 6319 Newhaven Lane, Vallejo, CA 94591 (MLS # 21824691)
    38
    3 beds,  3 full baths
    2,259 sqft   lot 3,014 sqft
    Walk Score® 15
    Listing provided by Stacey Sandoe, Coldwell Banker Kappel Gateway Realty
    MLS 21824691
  18. Photo of 5031 Feliz Creek Road, Hopland, CA 95449 (MLS # 21824576)
    46
    2 beds,  2 full baths
    2,498 sqft   lot 15.00 ac
    Walk Score® 0
    Listing provided by Alain-Martin Pierret, Healdsburg Sotheby's Int'l Realty
    MLS 21824576
  19. Photo of 4610 Aria Place, Fairfield, CA 94534 (MLS # 21824653)
    32
    3 beds,  2 full, 1 half baths
    3,417 sqft   lot 20,255 sqft
    Walk Score® 4
    Listing provided by Eric Brooks, KW Vaca Valley
    MLS 21824653
  20. Photo of 73 Tamalpais Road, Fairfax, CA 94930 (MLS # 21824596)
    24
    3 beds,  2 full, 1 half baths
    1,527 sqft   lot 3,899 sqft
    Walk Score® 33
    Listing provided by Dominique Nave-Conroy, Bradley Real Estate-Novato
    MLS 21824596
  21. Photo of 26 Hilligoss Court, Petaluma, CA 94952 (MLS # 21815749)
    40
    4 beds,  3 full baths
    2,903 sqft   lot 20,713 sqft
    Walk Score® 41
    Listing provided by Michael Williams, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
    MLS 21815749
  22. Photo of 7771 Healdsburg Avenue, Sebastopol, CA 95472 (MLS # 21824455)
    20
    2 beds,  1 full bath
    1,200 sqft   lot 871 sqft
    Walk Score® 71
    Listing provided by Rick Warner, Bradley Real Estate
    MLS 21824455
  23. Photo of 170 Wilson Way, Larkspur, CA 94939 (MLS # 21824439)
    25
    4 beds,  3 full, 1 half baths
    2,685 sqft   lot 9,500 sqft
    Walk Score® 5
    Listing provided by Chris DeNike, Zephyr Real Estate
    MLS 21824439
  24. Photo of 2324 Jose Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA 95401 (MLS # 21824671)
    8
    4 beds,  3 full baths
    1,676 sqft   lot 4,356 sqft
    Walk Score® 19
    Listing provided by Luis Ramos, Blue Sky Realty & Investments
    MLS 21824671
  25. Photo of 2100 Tindall Ranch Road, Talmage, CA 95481 (MLS # 21824673)
    19
    2 beds,  1 full bath
    1,400 sqft   lot 28.36 ac
    Listing provided by Anthony Ford, RE/MAX Full Spectrum
    MLS 21824673
  26. 4 beds,  2 full baths
    1,540 sqft   lot 6,970 sqft
    Walk Score® 32
    Listing provided by Logan Adams, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
    MLS 21824668
  27. Photo of 8981 Glen Alder Way, Sacramento, CA 95826 (MLS # 21824669)
    19
    3 beds,  2 full baths
    2,003 sqft   lot 7,000 sqft
    Walk Score® 32
    Listing provided by Richard Howells, Keller Williams Realty
    MLS 21824669
  28. Photo of 763 Penny Royal Lane, San Rafael, CA 94903 (MLS # 21823704)
    27
    3 beds,  2 full baths
    1,513 sqft   lot 6,499 sqft
    Walk Score® 47
    Listing provided by Jonathan Marks, Alain Pinel Realtors
    MLS 21823704
  29. Photo of 25302 Ten Mile Road, Point Arena, CA 95468 (MLS # 21805863)
    34
    3 beds,  1 full bath
    lot 71.45 ac
    Walk Score® 0
    Listing provided by Cassie Henderson, Kennedy & Associates
    MLS 21805863
  30. Photo of 1559 Philip Drive, Healdsburg, CA 95448 (MLS # 21824618)
    42
    4 beds,  2 full, 1 half baths
    1,740 sqft   lot 4,356 sqft
    Walk Score® 42
    Listing provided by Michael Viani, Redfin
    MLS 21824618
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