Monday, September 28, 2009

Elements of the Principal-Agent Relationship

I’m on the advisory board of the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing, which in turn has a relationship with the Luxury Institute, which gives me access to the LI’s Wealth Report 9 times a year.

An article in this month’s issue was a great reminder. The managing director of the Bessemer Trust discussed five elements of a great principal-agent relationship:

1. Put the clients’ interests first.
2. Understand the clients’ total situation.
3. Be honest and transparent.
4. Deliver truly proactive client service.
5. Maintain absolute confidentiality.

A great list I aspire to!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Stop the Phantom Watts Dead--

Remember last year when I ran our home through an eco-efficiency review, and found that the most powerful change we could make was to unplug our [many] computers? The New York Times just got the point.

See yesterday's story, and check out the "smart" power strip they discuss at this Treehugger post.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Speaking of Piedmont School Privileges----

Don't forget that if your Junior has spent all three years at Piedmont High, you could move next summer, and still retain the right to attend Piedmont schools for that final year.

Check with the principal's office to confirm, but selling in the late spring might be a good strategy if your looking for cash to help convert your IRAs to Roth IRAs next year.....

Note to Self-----

Was reorganizing my Outlook Control Panel today and came across a note I'd made from a book called "Made to Stick." The note says, "why would you buy a house in a neighborhood you didn't know, in a market you didn't "get," and with someone you'd known for 5 minutes?" I don't know if that's my language or language I picked up from the book, but it's exactly right.

I think back to the time I was making an offer for a Victorian house with an ancient furnace and brick foundation in Piedmont. I'd checked the tax record and noticed it referenced a garage, though there was none currently on the property. I raised the question of the garage just informally as I made our offer, and the sellers said they'd taken it down just after moving in.

Long story short, the sellers paid for a new garage for my clients. We knew the City wouldn't issue a permit for any work, including the essential foundation work, unless off street parking was part of the renovation package. And who removed the garage without a permit?

If I hadn't known how the system works here in Piedmont, I might have missed it--and then my clients would have been incensed (or worse) when they found out what they'd gotten themselves into--a bill for an extra $83,000 for a garage they were happy to live without.

An acquaintance who lives right on the Piedmont border motioned to the house next door and said, "those folks bought their house thinking it was in Oakland, but once they moved in, they realized they could go to Piedmont schools." Well that's a coup! For the typical 3/2 home in Piedmont, that difference translates into about $325,000 in home value. And neither the seller's agent nor the buyer's agent thought to call the school district and see if the house had Piedmont school privileges. In fact, I bet they had no idea that there's a list with addresses very clearly identified, sitting on the desk of the Superintendent's secretary.

Buying a home in Piedmont is likely your largest financial commitment ever. You deserve to spend more than five minutes deciding which agent has the insight, contacts and energy to best represent you. Buy with someone you've known for 5 minutes? Indeed! See for at least two minutes worth of an introduction-----