Frequently Asked Questions

What do you charge for a Commission?

I charge five percent of the selling price on buildings priced from $750,000 up $3,000,000. This is split 50/50 with the agent that represents the buyer. On some listings above this range the commission may be less. On listings below $750,000 the commission is generally 6%.

How long is the listing period?

Generally the listing period is for 120 days. This varies with the marketability of the property. I have had unusual properties that have needed a long time to find the right buyer. Most properties, properly priced sell much sooner.

How often do you represent the buyer and the seller?

Because so few agents specialize in apartment sales, I find myself locating the buyer for my listings more often than in residential sales. My marketing efforts are extensive, and often locate the best buyer. Historically I represent the buyer in one out of every six of my listings sold. In cases where my Seller does not want me to also represent the Buyer, I am happy to refer all of the leads I generate to other agents.

Do you discount your commission if you represent both the seller and the buyer?

No. Offering a discount on this basis requires that I disclose in advance to all other agents that buyers might have an advantage dealing directly with me. The great majority of the buyers come from these other agents and I do not want to do anything to discourage their activity. If I also find the buyer, you as the seller are getting top dollar, and I am getting paid appropriately.

Do you also sell houses or commercial properties?

No. I refer these transactions to the top agents that specialize in these areas.

GRM and CAP rates?

I am often asked why I use Gross Rent Multipliers (GRM) instead of the traditional CAP rate. Capitalization (CAP) rates suggest the return on your investment if the property was purchased for cash. It is the gross scheduled annual income, less a vacancy rate, less all reasonably expected annual expenses to determine a Net Operating Income (NOI). This NOI is divided by the price to give a rate of return on your investment. It is a figure used to compare one building to another or to price a building based on the returns derived by other comparable buildings sold.

The difficulty with this calculation is that while rents are generally available, it requires expense information that is not always presented accurately by other properties on the market. Given the inconsistency of the information presented, buildings do not alwats compare easily with one another and unintended errors occur. This is especially true with smaller buildings.

GRM is an easy calculation based only on the gross annual income of the property. How many times the annual income is the price. While a rough calculation, it represents an easy way to compare building to building using only readily available information. On my listings, I try to present each calculation accurately.

Is it better to have one unit vacant?

Exposure sells real estate. If we can make it easier for agents and their buyers to see the property, it is helpful and should result in a faster sale at the highest price. Is it necessary...NO! With most listings, I do not have a vacant unit and I make arrangements with the tenants and take all agents and their buyers through the property personally.

What is the best time of the year to buy or sell?

Most have heard that more sales happen in the Spring, so they assume this is the best time. While more sales happen in spring, there are also more properties on the market. While more buyers are attracted to this added inventory, there is also more competition for your property. There are only two slow months in real estate - January and August.

Why do you work for a "residential" brokerage instead of a "commercial" firm?

While I handle more sales than any other agent, the great majority of buyers still come from residential agents (even if they sell only one every year or so). Decker Bullock Sothebys International Realty is the top producing residential company in Marin. Here I have daily exposure to the top producing residential agents that can sell my listings.

TAN – Top Agent Network

TAN is a networking group of agents from different brokerage firms. You must qualify as an agent with sales in the top 10% of all agents. Historically these top 10% are responsible for 90% of all sales. While it is generally best to fully expose your property to all aspects of the market, some Sellers prefer a more quiet marketing approach limited only to the top agents. If you are a Buyer, often a property comes to market through this group and is sold before ever hitting the open market. I am proud to be a member of the Top Agent Network in Marin.

Do you use mortgage brokers?

Yes and no. I personally direct all loans on properties over four units. On 2-4 unit properties, a better rate sometimes can be obtained through a mortgage broker.

Will you take a listing higher than you think it is worth?

With the full knowledge of the seller we may take on such properties. There are properties that are not easily appraised. I am willing to test the market to a degree. If it is not working I will let you know. You are in charge. It is my job to give you my best advice.

What if my tenant or a friend wants to buy my property?

This happens very often. Unfortunately most of these sales do not take place. My best advice is to expose your property to the market to make sure your tenant or friend is paying the best price to you. If they are, I will represent your interests only, let them represent themselves and I will charge you only a listing half of the commission. This needs to be discussed in advance.

Are all agents REALTORS?

To be a Realtor, you agree to a strict code of ethics and agree to resolve any dispute between yourself and other agents at the Board of Realtors. Not all agents are willing to do this. I am proudly a REALTOR.

My building needs repairs. Should I do them before I put it up for sale?

Many repairs are better left to the buyer. There will always be the question of whether the work was done to the standard the buyer might set. It is often better to credit them the money and let them do it themselves. Repairs, however like painting and improvements that better the street appeal of the property are different. These can be of great benefit to a sale. I will work with you to make appropriate suggestions.

Should I order a termite or contractor's report before putting my property up for sale?

If I anticipate there are going to be a number of items needing attention, a report in advance is warranted. Otherwise I prefer that the buyer obtain their own inspections. A full due-diligence inspection by the buyer with their own inspectors is necessary to limit after sale disputes.

I'm concerned about my tenant's rights & privacy during a sale. What do you do to protect them?

I have heard story after story of owners who have had uncooperative tenants after the property is listed for sale. This can have severe financial impacts on you the seller. I establish a relationship with tenants, follow landlord-tenant laws and do my best to keep your tenants happy. I work with tenants daily and am qualified to protect their interests while I represent yours.

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Michael J Burke
500 Drakes Landing Rd.
Greenbrae, CA 94904
mburke@marinapartments.com
415.877.1077
Lic #00454938
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Sotheby’s International Realty® is a registered trademark licensed to Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC. Each office is independently owned and operated. mburke@sothebysrealty.com

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