"Karen and Chris did wonderful work. Their combination of imagination, attention to detail, integrity, thoughtfulness, expertise, and energy really made our experience amazingly worry-free and very successful.
Considering the ten buying or selling transactions we've been involved with up until now, we have never before worked with realtors as good as they were.
We wanted to downsize to take advantage of the current market opportunities and reduce the size of our mortgage. Knowing our budget for our next house, we had a very specific financial goal we wanted to meet when selling our house.
We met with Karen & Chris in the spring when the real estate market was very slow because of mortgage restrictions, bank failures, and the rise in foreclosures. They gave us information about pricing for the market that indicated to us that it was not the right time for us to sell, and then they kept us up to date on what the market was doing and what the best selling seasons were.
They kept a close eye on the market and when things started picking up again, they reminded us of our plans and suggested that we get the house ready for the fall season. We decided to put the house on the market, knowing that if we did not get the price we wanted, we were going to hold off until spring.
They then told us, in detail, what they thought we needed to do in order to get the best price for our house. In the past we have worked with realtors who either gave us contact info for people to call and expected us to take care of everything ourselves or simply used a stager who took over with no concern for our preferences. Not these two! They coordinated all the service providers including the painter, the plumber, the gardener, the cleaner, the floor refinisher and the stagers. They got all the quotes for us, gave us choices, made suggestions in line with our budget, coordinated the timing, dealt with distributing payment, and made sure all the work was done well and completed on time. We trusted their taste in refurbishing and in how to position the house for the right buyers. The house looked so elegant and showed its absolute best when they were done!
They then took as much care in writing the description and getting the photos prepared as they had done in renewing the house. Yet everything was completed in very short time and right on schedule according to a calendar they'd laid out in advance.
They carefully assessed the market and suggested a deliberately considered pricing strategy, with input from their colleagues at Zephyr. We agreed on the strategy, and it turned out to be right on! The first open house was mobbed and according to our friends who went to see it, Chris was the perfect mix of "welcoming and helpful but not pushy or over-eager." We got 4 offers within 7 days of being on the market, and all were at or above asking!
From the beginning they constantly kept us up to date with what was happening in our home, gave us good advice and explained our options. They continued to keep good tabs on the expenditures, the schedule, the loose ends, etc., throughout the entire transaction. With these two, we found that there were no loose ends!
Karen and Chris far exceeded our expectations in terms of sale price and speed of the sale, and with their excellent communication skills. After all was said and done, we were in a state of happy shock! We can now remodel the kitchen in our new home right away. We will absolutely be introducing them to our friends and anyone else we encounter who needs expert real estate assistance." — Dimi & Lutz Berkner
"We found Chris and Karen on the Internet and would heartily and without reservation recommend them to anyone who is seriously considering purchasing real estate in San Francisco. Without question and after working with 3 previous realtors, they are far and away the very best realtors we've ever worked with.
Acclimating to a new city after moving across country, we needed to work with realtors who knew the market inside and out, could orient us to the different neighborhoods, and could help us make sense of the craziness of the San Francisco real estate market—a real shock when moving here from another city! The realtor we first worked with focused more on open houses and less on a personalized and detailed real estate strategy driven by our own personal needs and recent market data—the latter being the exact approach Chris and Karen recommended in our first meeting with them.
Chris & Karen had all the attributes we were looking for in realtors: responsive, honest, knowledgeable, analytical, enthusiastic but not pushy, friendly yet professional. They answered our questions fully and promptly, gave us candid and honest advice, arranged to meet us after work hours to see properties and write offers, and helped us create and execute a personalized and detailed real estate strategy driven by our own personal needs and recent market data. The success of their approach can be measured in the results we achieved: we moved into our dream home within 3 months of starting to work with them.
We've also benefited from the depth and breadth of Chris and Karen's knowledge as new homeowners. Their knowledge and experience extends into all aspects of owning, repairing, and maintaining a home. When we needed to repair the garbage disposal, they supplied us with names of various agencies with proven track records for us to consider in hiring for the job; we ended up using one, with whose work we were quite satisfied. It's hard enough to find good contractors, but it's especially hard when you're new to a city.
Chris and Karen know SF real estate inside and out. They use a consultative approach that yields real results. If you want to buy a home in SF, call them; you'll be very glad you did. " — Paul W. & Paul K.
"With real estate agents, it is often difficult to really know the difference between average, good, and exceptional before being required to commit to one particular person or company. Unlike any other real estate people I have ever heard of, Karen and Chris imply a deep understanding of this in their approach, and truly make the decision very easy. To anyone looking to buy or sell in San Francisco, I would offer a very simple suggestion: meet with as many agents as you want, and then just meet with Chris and Karen once. I can guarantee you'll see the difference right away.
They bring a level of thoughtfulness and thoroughness to their work that is just plain missing in most others. After working with them for just a few days, it is clear that you are not only getting the best service you possibly can, but that they are redefining what real estate agents should really be. My guess is that their extensive backgrounds in other complementary professional areas help create this sense. But either way, whether it's legal issues, negotiation strategies, contractor networks, tips on what is really necessary vs. what is frivolous or won't pay off, or anything else, their knowledge is comprehensive and based on solid experience.
We bought our San Francisco house through Karen and Chris, and just sold the same house through them (5 1/2 years after buying it). In order to ensure a fast sale at the price we wanted, a few critical upgrades were necessary, and this was when we realized how important it was to have Karen and Chris on our team. Karen knows dozens of experienced and reliable contractors who charge very reasonable amounts for their services. With her running the show, it really is like you're getting a free general contractor. Under her management we had a new deck added, the kitchen and bathroom upgraded, most of the interior painted, the garden spiffed up, and much more.
It is extremely unlikely that we could have had all of the work done on our own for anything close to the cost we paid with Karen and Chris. The relationships they have with contractors are really invaluable, and these should be taken into consideration by anyone thinking of selling a house in San Francisco. In addition to having a good eye for what will work in any given room, Karen and Chris know what changes will really make a difference, and which will be most important to buyers.
After the house looked just as we wanted it to, they of course helped us determine a listing price and marketing strategy. For anyone considering an agent for assisting in the sale of a house, I would strongly suggest asking about different marketing strategies, and examples of how they may have employed them in the past. If they cannot answer coherently, take note. This is a critical part of the business, especially in competitive markets like San Francisco. Your agent should have informed and specific ideas about how best to market your house (YOUR house, not any house) given current market trends. And once your house is on the market and you have interested prospects, or offers, there is no one better than Chris for providing experience, insight, and truly helpful negotiation skills to ensure that you get top dollar for your home.
The result of our efforts to sell our house with Karen and Chris? In one of the worst economies and real estate markets in the past 40 years, we closed for well over asking price a few weeks after our first open house.
I could go on for a while, but as I mention above, the best approach for anyone looking to buy or sell in San Francisco is just to meet them. You will be thankful you did, and may have an entirely new perspective on real estate." — Jim McClellan & Yumi Esaka
"We just purchased our first home with the help of Karen and Chris, and I cannot believe how smoothly this process went. They stayed up all night with us to review disclosure and write up an offer when time was of the essence. Additionally, because they are well known and respected within the real estate community, we are positive our offer was accepted over another solely based on their reputation. How lucky are we?
Because we know nothing about real estate and even less about real estate in San Francisco, we used recommendations from them across the board. Our mortgage broker, CPA, inspector, and title agent were recommendations from them. It's an incredibly scary thing to blindly trust two people to handle all of your business in buying a home, but even in hindsight, there's little we would have done differently.
Throughout the entire process they were the ones we could count on to cut the crap and tell us exactly what the wordy contracts we had to sign actually said. They were not afraid to dumb things down for us.
All in all, even though we knew they must have been constantly busy with their other clients, there was no real evidence of that. We felt like we always had their full attention, because they were accessible and responsive at all times. I find it hard to believe they ever take a break, which is great for us but probably exhausting for them.
We are thrilled to have found Karen and Chris thanks to a close friend, and we would wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone looking to purchase in San Francisco. " — Jill Wetzler & Dan Haas
This spring I had the absolute joy of working with Karen Cheong and Chris Sprague in an extremely complex and difficult real estate transaction.
From our first meeting, Karen and Chris thoroughly impressed me, not only with their marketing and legal knowledge, but with their ability to provide a vast network of support people to aid in the preparation of the unit for sale.
They were both extremely generous with their time, suggestions, and talents to do whatever was necessary to make this process the least stressful: from letting in work people, to being there in my absence for inspections, picking up materials, keeping all of us to our demanding time schedule and arranging for the staging of the unit.
This was an incredibly complex transaction involving a three unit condo conversion in the making, and the coincidence of six loans (three first loans and three second loans) all needing to close on the same day — with owners out of the US during the process!
The transaction went through without a hitch, though there were several last minute glitches that I was never even aware of until the escrow closed in my absence.
We were concerned about the market timing of the unit since the market was in a flukey period and were in contact on a daily basis from the first day of signing the contract to the closing day. Despite the sketchy market, Karen and Chris aggressively marketed the property through all media and after the very first Open House produced 7 offers for the condo — all significantly above the asking price.
I equate this outcome with their skill in marketing, ability to see potential in a unit, and their absolute and total commitment to the client — all carried out with impeccable honesty and integrity.
In the past six years, I have been involved in seven real estate transactions and have never experienced the level of diligence, expertise and commitment that Karen and Chris provided for this transaction. They are, without a doubt, not only the most effective professional realtors, but wonderful people ...the best!
"We had been working with another agent but had become frustrated with their unresponsiveness. We were referred to Chris and Karen through an acquaintance. Now that we have found our home we can say with certainty that we are so glad that we met them.
The SF housing market can seem like a big mystery because you can't always rely on the list price to determine whether you can get the house you want. Thus, we really relied on Karen and Chris to guide us on 1) whether the house was a good choice in terms of its overall value and 2) whether the house really met our needs as a family (by asking tough questions like, "do you really think this is enough space for you?" When we were ready to make bids, we trusted that they did the research to guide us in what price to bid (and what not exceed). So in the end, we really listened to their wise advice on what a house was worth and whether it made sense for us to bid on it given our needs. (They even talked us out of bidding on a particular house we were ready to offer on— which, in the long run, was definitely the right decision for us).
We truly appreciated that they never "pushed" the sale, instead providing "suggestive advice." We were always struck by how they never really pushed us to buy something— even if we seemed like we wanted a particular house. We think this is one the most valuable aspects of their approach— not being pushy sales people, but providing enough guidance so that we could make our own decisions.
We had loads of questions and concerns throughout the housing search and bidding process and really appreciated their timeliness in getting back to us. We especially liked that their voicemail indicated when they were returning calls so that we weren't waiting around all day wondering when we were going to hear from them. When we submitted a bid, we were on pins and needles. By keeping us well informed every step of the way, we felt assured that things were going as they were supposed to.
Another valuable aspect of Karen and Chris's service is linking us with good service providers after we closed on the house. Because we trusted them at the onset, we naturally trusted the people that they referred. These folks included mortgage brokers, insurance agents, painters, floor refinishers, roofers etc. We were really impressed with the quality of service they all provided to us.
Karen and Chris really went above and beyond the call of duty.
Overall, we felt like they really took care of us and our needs by listening to us and guiding us. We are so thankful for all they've done. Karen and Chris are an awesome team and we will be delighted to refer them to our friends and colleagues. We tell friends about all they've done for us and they are all amazed by their high quality service. Karen and Chris have certainly set the bar high!!" — Sen & Sam Leshnick
"We had an excellent experience with Chris and Karen when we bought our San Francisco home two years ago, so we called them as soon as we learned that we would be moving out of state. They met with us and explained timing, pricing strategies, and what preparation would have to be done to get the highest sale price possible. They advised us on what would need to be done to the house to prepare it for sale and created a timeline to help us plan when things would be done. This was particularly helpful when so many things were up in the air for us. They also shared their valuable insights into local real estate market trends, and explained how those might affect us when our house actually listed.
Because we were both working and have a young son, the process of packing our belongings for the move consumed all our available energy and time—we just didn't have enough time to handle preparing the house for sale. But Chris and Karen came to the rescue and did it for us! Once we moved out, they really went above and beyond the call of duty getting our house ready to show in the best possible light. Not only did they coordinate all the service providers, including the painters, gardener, stagers, cleaner, handyman and plumber, they also picked out the fixtures that needed to be replaced and the plants that needed to be added to the front and back yards.
Once that was complete they went over the house with a fine-toothed comb to verify that all the little details had been taken care of, and did a lot of the touch-ups themselves. They did far, far more than we expected from realtors, and helped us feel confident that our house was looking its very best. During all this activity, they did a fantastic job of keeping us in the loop as to what was happening and when things were being done.
We are so pleased with their service and the outcome. Their creativity, amazing industriousness, and refreshingly intelligent approach maximized our selling price while minimizing our headaches. We especially appreciated the care with which they helped us think through our options when bids arrived, and we were impressed with the tact and people skills they brought to the table when it came time to talk to potential buyers about hard numbers. It's hard to imagine getting better, more focused service anywhere else or with anyone else. We wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone thinking of selling in San Francisco.
— Chris & Kinnari Cowell-Shah
"We purchased our home with Karen and Chris two years ago (referred by our friends) and had a really fantastic buying experience. When we decided to move back to Seattle, we called Karen and Chris, and are extremely happy that we did!
Because of our move and new jobs in Seattle we had a lot to get done in just a few weeks. Karen and Chris totally stepped up to the plate and were responsive to our aggressive timing needs. They advised on what we needed to do in order to sell our house for the best price, helped us coordinate service providers (on tight timelines for competitive rates), helped us choose paint colors, and even pitched in themselves to help with some of the work.
The thing we liked most was how clear and organized they were as we prepared to list our home. Karen gave us a timeline of when things were happening and when things needed to be completed. They gave us an easy to follow task list so we could keep track of all the prep work. They kept us educated on competitive listings as they came on the market — so we could better understand our competition & pricing. They also encouraged us to put together a very thorough disclosure packet (which we did) so potential buyers would feel so comfortable with the house that they could offer without hesitation.
They advised us on pricing strategy, and we took their advice, despite family and friends' feedback to the contrary. Thank goodness we did! Despite a slowing market, we got multiple offers and a price that was at the high end of our expectations.
They are wonderful to work with — super proactive, helpful and efficient. Now having both bought and sold with them, we will definitely recommend them to our friends and anyone else thinking of selling or buying a home in San Francisco."
— Jenny & Steve Copson
"I was referred to Karen and Chris by a friend and went in for their buyer strategy session. It was my first home purchase and given San Francisco is a fast-paced and aggressive market, I found it very helpful and informative. The information session also gave me a chance to get to know Karen and Chris before plunging into the market. By the end of the presentation I felt very comfortable with them.
Shortly thereafter, I went out open housing with Karen. She is a straight-shooter and was very honest about what we saw and what I could expect given my price range. She also provided invaluable insight regarding resale and development potential, which was of particular interest to me. After open housing, I made offers on a couple of places that I was outbid on. As the search and bidding continued, I found a flat that Karen and Chris actually advised me not to move forward with because the lay-out was too awkward. In reality, I just wasn't that excited about the apartment and their advice made me realize that I had become caught up in the market.
Days later, they uncovered an opportunity for a flat offered as a pocket listing in a building where I had considered another unit. Within an hour of viewing the unit they had prepared an offer-I was very excited about this flat. I wound up getting the flat at the asking price and without competition.
After I had closed escrow and moved in, I discovered the sellers had left a bunch of trash in the unit and a number of partially painted doors in the garage. They quickly called the listing agent and had the former sellers agree to pay for removal of the trash. Chris later called and invited me to bring the doors over to their home to help paint them. Karen and Chris take their long term commitment to theirclients seriously and take care of them even after the deal has closed. I have already recommended them to two friends!" — Chad Stegeman
"To Whom It May Concern:
As you consider real estate agents to represent you in one of the most critical financial decisions that you will have to make, please consider our personal recommendation of Chris Sprague and Karen Cheong. Working as a team, they professionally and accurately guided us through the many important and time-sensitive steps that must be accomplished in order to have a successful selling experience. Their advice was tempered with realistic appraisals of the value and opportunity currently available in a changing San Francisco real estate market.
We had to move quickly because of a job transfer out of state. Karen & Chris did a great job of educating us on what we needed to do in order to get our house ready to market. They then helped plan our calendar to coordinate getting our things moved out, and getting the house cleaned, prepped and staged. That calendar really kept us on track and helped keep all of us on top of the many things that were going on. They gave us task lists that were helpful in keeping us organized and helped everyone know what was going on and who was accountable for what action item.
They arranged for the painters to come in, the stagers, the cleaners and even did the landscaping and power washing of the front steps themselves — all under a relatively tight time line! With both of us working and one of us transitioning to begin work in a different state we were happy with their organized, thorough approach to getting the house ready for sale. Because of a seasonal slow down in the market the month we were selling, we received five offers that were lower than what we had hoped to receive.
Chris & Karen did an amazing job of rustling up another offer $50,000 over the highest offer we'd received, within 48 hours of the original offer date. We are extremely happy with the results they got for us. We had to move out of the house and get to our new place quickly, before escrow closed. We knew that Chris and Karen would be there to wrap things up properly from getting the stagers to remove their furniture and clean up, put out our garbage bins and forward our mail. We would recommend them to any seller.
Based on their character and integrity, we extend the highest recommendation to you to engage the services of Chris Sprague and Karen Cheong for the sale of your property.
Jim and Debbie Bell"
"I had an extremely bad experience with another real estate agent before I met Karen and Chris. I attended their home buyer seminar and it was far and above what I was expecting both in the amount of useful information they provided as well as the amount of time and care they gave to answering all of my questions. They really listened to what my criteria were for my home. Within 3 days of attending their home buyer seminar I found something that I liked. Karen and Chris were great at sifting through all the disclosures for me and pointing out all the points that affected me. They advised me and negotiated on my behalf and I saved $10,000 off the purchase price! I never could have done that with any degree of confidence that I was doing the right thing or that my interests were protected without their guidance.
They also provided great resources along the way including an excellent mortgage broker who was very responsive in addition to a structural engineer who addressed my concerns about liquefaction. They took all my concerns seriously and addressed them so I would feel comfortable throughout the whole process. They were also fantastic at keeping me up to date as to what was happening with the transaction so I didn't have to worry. It was one of the best buying experiences I've ever had. I am insisting that all my friends use them." — Katherine Mendonca
"Having reached retirement age when my last tenants moved out, I decided this was the time to sell my rental condo in San Francisco which had been tenant occupied for over 18 years. I knew the price I wanted to get, and was willing to spend some money sprucing it up as long as it yielded a positive return. Karen and Chris were amazing. They provided not only great suggestions, but excellent sources for everything I needed. They kept everyone on schedule and were always ready to meet a painter or a plumber if I couldn't be there. When the work was complete, I was thrilled with the results!
Like many sellers, I was concerned with the slowing market, particularly for properties listed at over a million dollars. I again took the advice of Karen and Chris on pricing and timing strategy. Despite incredibly rainy weather, I was in contract within 11 days of the first open house, with a sale price over asking!
Karen and Chris did much more than I ever expected from a real estate agent. I knew that they always had my best interests at heart and I will refer them to any of my friends who are thinking of selling property in the city." — Wendy Soule
"My elderly father had been thinking of downsizing from his 4 bedroom family home to a more manageable 2 bedroom condo on one level after my mom passed away. For three years Karen and Chris were happy to provide answers to our many questions and provide us with resources without ever pushing him to sell before he was ready to make that transition. When he finally found something he wanted to buy, they stepped up to make sure that he was able to transfer his property tax base to the new property, and also started the process of preparing his previous home for sale. They knew this home was special for us and prepared it with lots of care!
They recommended and coordinated estate sale people, the painters, the stagers, an arborist, cleaners, window cleaners, suggested what things needed to changed and improved, picked paint colors, checked in on the progress daily, problem solved and adjusted timing to accommodate my father. When offering advice about pricing the house and the timing of placing it during a very complicated market , they explained very clearly what the risks and possible outcomes were. They kept us fully informed of what was going on at all times and continued to give us their perspective as they saw the market conditions shift around us and as different situations arose while the property was in contract. With their advice on strategy my dad was able to get a price he was quite happy with.
I would highly recommend Karen and Chris. They truly care about their clients and do the best they can for them. They are unique in the way that their hearts are in whatever they do! Bravo!"— Cynthia Brattesani