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     comfortable the process can be.

As a couple of you might remember, my family and I have been hunting for a house for a while. In fact, it started back in
2011, soon after we had our daughter. We knew we needed a bigger house not only because we had a kid, but also because my mother was going to move down and live with us (she still is). In 2011, we worked with a different realtor that we knew from another cycling club, but after looking through the inventory for about a year, we were disatisfied with the selection. Back then, there just wasn't that much attractive inventory.

Today, houses are a lot more attractive, but the inventory is still low, driving prices up.
After a 6-month break, we restarted our hunt, this time with Joseph Mendes. I have to say that the experience has been night and day in difference between our last realtor. Joseph knew the neighborhood (we were looking in Castro Valley and
the vicinity). He worked hard to find out the history of any of the properties we were interested in (not just the ones we put
bids in), and he was very responsive, easy to work with, even in the harder times. We only made 4 offers in the time we
were looking (a bit over a year), but we must have looked at more than 30 properties over the course of 2 years. In every
walkthrough, he offered his expert advice about the outlook of the property as related to costs to remodel, maintenance, etc. This helped a lot, because we are a little newbish when it comes to single family homes (we own a condo, where all our
maintenance is taken care of for us).

The housing market is a very unforgiving, very rigorous venture. The competition is fierce. There's no Cat 5 here; you're
thrown into the 1/2/3 race regardless of your background. Having Joseph there for us was like having a teammate that was
2 categories above us, sacrificing himself so that we could take the win (I know that doesn't sound right, but it certainly felt
that way). We lost many bids because we could not meet competing offers, that in the 6 months we were bidding, prices
came up substantially. I think our first bid was for $410k, and we ended up buying a property for $550k, our highest bid ever being $560k (which we lost against a $600k+ offer). Every time we bid, Joseph worked with the sellers and their listing
agents, procuring a relationship, which worked for us at the end. Like every endeavour, buying a house takes perseverence
and willpower, and lots of good credit.

When we finally found a house and won the bidding offer, Joseph is also a loan officer, so that made it super easy to
transition from finding to buying. Even though we encountered road bumps in the loan process (very BIG bumps, BTW),
Joseph never let up on the gas and was always on top of the business at hand. In fact, as I write this, he's working with a coworker of mine to obtain a refinance of his house in CV. So far, Joseph is "the man," and I agree. From winning the offer to close of escrow took about 3 weeks. Joseph worked with the sellers and made sure that they were ok with us extending our closing date (we had agreed on 2 weeks beforehand) because of income issues with our loan. After some frustrating days, we came out ahead and closed within a reasonable amount of time. In fact, the sellers were thankful that we were so communicative, and that they needed the extra time to move out anyway. I've worked with loan officers before, but they've never been this easy to work with. He really went above and beyond what we were expecting him to do; for example, he even showed up for the signing of the escrow papers...that happens very seldom, according to the notary, perhaps 2-3 times in 30 signings!

If I had to describe Joseph in as few words as possible, I'd say he's: responsive, professional, dedicated,
knowledgeable, personable. These are things I look for in every business relationship.

Thanks for reading.
David Cheung, CFI

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