Buying & Selling Real Estate Insights

Cassel & Brown Luxury Realty, Keller Williams

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In this episode, Elliot Kallen brings on Anthony Cassel, Aaron Brown, and William Cook from Keller Williams to reveal their secret to buying and selling real estate: a rich network of preferred partners and a deeply consultative approach. From helping clients navigate massive tax obligations to securing deals in a challenging market, they demonstrate the power of collaboration, local connections, and long-term thinking. 

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Meet Our Guests

Anthony Cassel, Aaron Brown, & William Cook

Keller Williams Realty

Anthony Cassel, Aaron Brown, and William Cook are key members of the esteemed Cassel & Brown team at Keller Williams Realty in Northern California. Anthony, a specialist in Investment and Commercial Real Estate, has been a Partner-Realtor since August 2022. Aaron, ranking among the top 1% of agents in the Oakland/Berkeley region, is celebrated for his strategic execution and success in over 300 transactions. William “Billy” Cook, the newest addition to the team, brings a tireless work ethic and dedication to his clients, focusing on preparing homes to sell quickly at the highest price. Together, they consistently rank in the Top 1% Nationally, leveraging their collective experience, client-centered approach, and trusted professional network to position clients for success in the real estate market.


Current Health of the Real Estate Market: An Overview

To start, our market is quite healthy. This time last year, we saw quite a frenzy in the marketplace, but it’s more balanced this year. Some headlines project doom and gloom, but the market is healthy. There’s still a bit of an imbalance between buyers and sellers and a real lack of inventory in our marketplace.

The raising of the rates has restricted people from moving, leading to an unusually low amount of inventory and multiple offer situations. Bidding is healthy, though not as intense as in previous years. Good houses in good locations that are well-prepared and priced are moving within two weeks. 

Insights and Buyer Activity

We feel pretty good about the market. We’re in our busy season now, and we’re seeing a lot of buyers. Bidding is happening. It’s not as intense as in years past, but good houses in good locations that are prepared and priced well are moving within two weeks. We always feel pretty good about the market.

The Housing Shortage and Mansion Tax Impact

The majority of my business is on the listing side, and I still work with buyers as well. On the listing side, anything that’s presented well will get multiple offers and go over the asking price. It’s definitely tough for buyers due to a housing shortage in the Bay area, predominantly in the East Bay. This shortage is across all price points. Tax strategies are important. In the last week, the push for a mansion tax on properties of 5 million and over has led to sellers offering incentives. I’m seeing a little push right now because of that mansion tax, but across all price points, 5 million and over is the key for the mansion tax. 

Benefits of a Team Approach in Real Estate

Well, Anthony and I are the senior partners of this team. We combined our organizations last year to create a more efficient offering for our clients. What we realized is that some aspects of the job are better handled by specialized individuals. We have an incredible group working in harmony to deliver better results.

As a younger agent, I found myself wearing too many hats. I was a negotiator, marketer, transaction coordinator, and more. These roles required different skill sets and mindsets. Our concept is about bringing exceptional individuals together in specialized roles, being experts rather than generalists.

Independent agents must be generalists and do all aspects at all times. We believe in being specialists. We don’t represent markets we don’t know intimately; we value being true experts.

The advantages of a team are sustainability and constant support for clients. We all have families, vacations, and other commitments. We’ve heard of clients feeling left out when their agent went on vacation. Our aim is to ensure clients always feel supported and receive a higher level of service.

The Impact of Rising Interest Rates on Home Affordability in the Bay Area

Even before the interest rate hike, a small percentage of people in the Bay Area could actually afford to buy a home, considering mortgage taxes, insurance, maintenance, etc. When we saw interest rates spike, many people who were barely able to afford a home got eliminated. Under a million dollars for what they wanted to buy just didn’t exist anymore.

Since interest rates started to rise, there have been ups and downs, especially for those with lower purchasing power. Many have either sat out the market or recalibrated their plans. Fast forward to today, the majority of our clients are still in the market.

They’ve recalibrated and realized that the sky isn’t falling. The news was filled with talk about the housing market becoming a buyer’s market, but we’re not flooded with inventory. Most of our buyers who stayed in the market have recalibrated.

Tips for Selling Real Estate

Timing and Flexibility

When it comes to tricks for sellers, the key is to start early. Whether you’re thinking of selling six months, a year, or two years from now, I always tell my clients to start the conversation at least a year or two in advance. This doesn’t sound like a trick, but it is. Many sellers wait until three to six months before listing their home, and that’s too late.

One benefit of starting early is the ability to watch supply and demand. Sometimes, you can time the market and get the right offer even if it’s not typically the best month to sell. For example, if the right offer comes in January and includes a lease back, we might jump on it earlier than expected.

So, the best advice is to get with an agent early, ideally 12 months in advance, and always be ready sooner. If supply and demand are working in your favor, you want to jump on it. Waiting until the last second can backfire if you end up in a month when there’s a lot of inventory for your property in your area.

Tips for Buying Real Estate

Finding the Right Home and Knowing When to Walk

The best tricks for finding the right home are to be open-minded and apply the 80/20 rule, where if 80% of the home is good, try to deal with the other 20%. It’s a lot about mindset and being willing to listen to your realtor. We want clients to be in love with the home. If you’re feeling iffy about it or unsure but feel pressure to buy, it might be better to hold back and wait until you find something that feels right. You don’t want to feel rushed and move into something that you’re going to regret later.

Fixer-Upper Opportunities and Risks in Northern California Housing Market

It’s crucial to consider this fixer-upper option with expert advice. Many clients don’t understand what’s involved in a remodel. They might think a kitchen remodel isn’t a big deal but overlook the electrical work or foundational changes that might be needed.

In the current marketplace, buyers are pickier, even though there’s more demand than supply. Homes that need significant work often get passed up, either because clients lack the funds for renovation or are more conscious of their purchase.

It’s a good idea to evaluate these properties, but you should have good guidance and expertise with you. My partner Anthony and I have backgrounds with a lot of construction involvement, rental properties, and property development. I’ve managed close to 125 remodels in the last 10 years, mostly in preparation for sale, so we can help clients see both the potential and the risks involved with a fixer-upper.

Sometimes, these properties offer fantastic opportunities. For example, we represented clients last week who found a property needing $70,000 in termite work. It seemed like a great deal, but we dissuaded them because of its continuous dry rot issues and what I call “uncurable defects,” like a detached backyard. With a young family, they needed accessible outdoor space.

In conclusion, considering fixer-uppers can be a great opportunity, but you also need expert guidance. Without it, you might find yourself in a terrible investment quite easily.

How to Connect Lifestyle and Real Estate Choices

Finding the Right Neighborhood

A person’s lifestyle preferences are essential to consider in finding the right living space. Here’s some guidance:

Consult a Specialist Realtor: Connecting with a realtor specializing in the areas he’s interested in should be the first step. They will be tapped into different communities and can align their wants, such as nightlife or other aspects, with suitable neighborhoods.

Consider Multiple Factors: The realtor will know not only the best places for nightlife but also understand other variables that might affect the decision. They can compare two areas that may seem equally appealing but highlight differences in safety, investment potential, or upcoming growth trends.

Evaluate Long-term Goals: If he’s looking to buy, understanding long-term aspects is vital. It’s not just about finding a place that’s “hopping” at night but also considering what might be a smart investment for the future.

Personalize the Process: Since your son has specific goals, arranging a group call with your real estate team to discuss his preferences would allow a more tailored approach to finding the best fit for him.

In summary, the best advice would be to align with a knowledgeable realtor who understands both the lifestyle he seeks and the long-term investment considerations. This will help him find the right spot that offers both a vibrant social scene and makes sense from an investment standpoint.

Meet the Expert

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