A closer look at the team of Tarpoff & Talbert

#435 in a series of true experiences in real estate
July 2003, Hills Newspapers

Chances are good that when you call our office you won’t reach us directly. Instead you’ll get our answering machine. It’s just that we’re usually out and about, and not in the office for long. But leave us a message and we’ll call you back.

We’ll hear what you’ve said while we are out looking at houses or at the hardware store buying smoke detectors. We’ll call in to hear you as soon as our open house closes or we’re finished talking to a client. We’ll call you back and we’ll talk about whatever your real estate interests are.

If you are thinking of selling, we’d be glad to talk about that. If you’d like us to, we’ll come to you, look at your house and give you our thoughts on preparing for market, pricing, timing. And if you want to buy a house, we’ll talk about that, too – where you may find what you seek, what it’s likely to cost, how to go about it.

Sometimes we are asked if we do regular real estate or if our job is writing this column. We do both. We do real estate; we sell houses. Our living is earned as agents representing both buyers and sellers.

We don’t take on many clients at one time because we tend to get wholly involved with those we do represent, and there are only so many hours in a day. We don’t, for example, put two houses on the market in the same week, but only one at a time. When we list a house, we are fully engrossed.

We’re there during inspections and typically spend many hours working with our clients on disclosures. If work is to be done on the house before it is shown, we are often the link to the workmen, getting bids, arranging the schedule, even locating supplies.

Our marketing always includes a printed property flyer, a piece created especially for each house. Because houses are all different from one another, so are our flyers advertising them. One will emphasize the large, well maintained spaces and tree views while another speaks of all sorts of work that will need to be addressed by the future owner.

Often we use illustrated themes. One flyer that we titled “Lady Seeks Assistance” featured 1920s fashion mannequins for a house of similar vintage in need of new dressing.

“The Sweet Spot” promoted a house located within a block of swimming and tennis, shops and bus lines. A map was included with photos of nearby conveniences, even the price for a swim. For that one we wrote a song (to be sung to the tune of “My Favorite Things”) that said, in part,”Chow mein and sal-mon steaks wrapped up in strings, I just love liv-ing near all of these things.”

The flyers take a lot of time (and fun) and we find them to be very effective. Agents and buyers do read them, learn about our properties, and are appreciative of the floor plans on each one.

Anet and I enjoy our job very much. We particularly like helping people zero in on what they actually wish to accomplish. We’ve talked to people who were sure they wanted to buy a house, then realized they’d be happier renting. More than one would-be seller has come to the realization that their best choice was to stay put; selling and buying elsewhere wasn’t right for them.

Almost everyone we talk to explores with us both money (borrowing, budgeting, and feeling comfortable) and emotions (letting go, bonding, finding what feels right). It is this process that we find so very interesting.

Recently we’ve talked to two women who will need to sell their parents’ houses, the homes our callers grew up in. One, along with her brother, has been clearing out the family belongings for months now, a large and trying experience, but as they work, this brother and sister are getting closer to letting the house go to someone new. They needed this time to feel ok about selling.

Our other caller, and her sister and brother, say that they are ready to sell. Their childhood home has been rented for the last few years since their parents died, and selling now feels right to them. We will be meeting with them to make a plan that will accomplish what they want.

A third caller wisely tells us that she must find and buy a new residence before she sells her house. It is important to her to know where she will be living next. She needs help locating something new that is suitable and appealing, and she will need short-term financing until her home is sold.

This caller must also take into consideration how much her property taxes will be on her new residence. Because she has lived in her present house for many years, she pays considerably less in property taxes than she will be facing when she buys again. The rise is so steep that many people we talk to realize that they cannot afford to move.

But, we were happy to explain to her, it is possible that she can retain her present property tax base. The property taxes will not rise if she is over age 55, both her sale and purchase are located in Alameda County, and she sells for a higher price than she pays for her replacement home.

So call us, and if we don’t answer ourselves, please leave us a message. We’ll get back to you quickly and we’ll put our heads together, bring you good thoughts, assistance if you need it, or simply some attentive conversation.

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