Friday, December 18, 2009 No More "Secret Stash"

“Pocket listings” are properties that are not publicly advertised but are considered for sale. Advertising for these homes is typically done through the Realtor’s and the seller’s networks, by word of mouth, and increasingly with a property-specific website. Pocket listings are a subject of much debate in the real estate world: whether the seller is serious about selling, if the asking price is realistic, and if the Realtor is able to properly do his job of getting the most exposure possible for the property.

The exposure debate is about to be laid to rest. Expected to launch in January 2010 is, a nationwide website exclusively for Realtors to promote properties that are not listed in their local MLS (multiple listing service).

The website will have a basic set-up where the general public can peruse these off-market real estate offerings and, when interest is piqued, have his or her agent contact the Realtor. No addresses will be published. Only licensed Realtors are able to enter property listings, which will preserve the site’s goal of becoming the go-to place for additional housing inventory, rather than a free for all for FSBO’s.

If you are too excited to wait for the website to go live, visit PocketListings on Twitter, which is already brimming with inventory.

Amy Blakeley, REALTOR® McGuire Real Estate ablakeley at

The Affordable Solar Option

We’d all like to pay less on our energy bills, right? Most of my clients don’t mention solar power as a desired amenity. Why? Solar panels are few and far between on homes in San Francisco; basically they are just too expensive to consider. But not anymore.

CBS Evening News recently presented a segment on how some solar companies are making solar panels affordable for homeowners. I contacted SolarCity to see how the program works. Companies such as SolarCity, who lease solar systems to customers, do consultations on homes and determine the system and the rental rate. Once installed, the customer pays his (now reduced) PG&E bills plus a monthly rental fee for the system. Although the CBS news segment quoted the monthly rental fee to be $100 per month, a spokesperson from SolarCity stated that the monthly rental rate is based on the size of the system, and indicated that the monthly rate for San Francisco County would most likely be less.

Lease terms for solar panels are 15 years, with small increases in the rental rate annually. The annual increase can also be bought down at the beginning of the lease term to reduce the percentage of annual escalation (currently about 3.9%).
What if you decide to sell your home before the 15 year lease is up? The leases are transferable. You can also choose to pre-pay the remaining amount of the term, which would be a great perk to the new buyer. At the 15 year mark, customers may negotiate a fair market value and purchase the current equipment, or enter into a new lease.

Amy Blakeley, REALTOR® McGuire Real Estate
ablakeley at