In early 2004, I helped my client, journalist and staff reporter for the Wall Street Journal Pui-Wing Tam, buy her dream home in Piedmont.

She wrote about her arduous but ultimately successful Bay Area home buying experience in the paper. Below are excerpts from her article, “House Hunting Advice for Bay Area Hopefuls,” published in the Wall Street Journal:

It was a nine-month saga which started in a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco and finally ended with us owning a house of our own…

“Along the journey we discovered some valuable lessons: Namely, use the Internet and find a great realtor. (We worked with Mavis Delacroix, an agent at Grubb Co., whom I call the ‘eighth wonder of the world.’ )…

“My boss recommended Mavis, who specialized in the neighborhood we were interested in. When we contacted her, we found out she’d lived in the area for more than a decade. She knew the various property inspectors and other agents who were listing homes, so she sometimes heard weeks in advance where there would be an open house. Mavis wasn’t pushy. And she listened…

“Mavis often told us which houses to skip and which ones to seriously look at…

“In late January, Mavis heard of an old house that was coming onto the market… She got us into the house on the first day buyers were allowed to view it. Although much of the house needed work, the main problems were cosmetic. We decided to go for it. Guided by Mavis, we asked a property inspector to take a look at the house before offers were due… That enabled us to put in a no-contingency offer… The following day, Mavis called my husband. ‘You got the house,’ she exclaimed. ‘Congratulations!’…It turns out we had outbid six other bidders.

While the sellers’ market my client experienced is no longer the norm, some of the same practices that helped us get her the home she wanted still apply. Listening to my clients and keeping my ear to the ground helps me save my clients’ time and energy while connecting them with properties as soon as or even before they go on the market. And taking action fast, like getting inspections done as early as possible, can give us a bidding edge.

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