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Primer for Out-Of-Town Buyers

Holiday visitors to San Diego might take a liking to our fair city, and wonder about our real estate market.  They may want to see a few homes for sale to sample the local fare.

A few thoughts for the unfamiliar:

1.  The local inventory has been picked clean.

Market conditions here have been excellent, and buyers have snatched up anything that resembled a decent buy.  All that is left are the OPTs (over-priced turkeys).  Any home for sale that has been on the market more than 30 days is probably 10% too high in price, or more.

2.  It probably won’t get much better.

We are due for a surge of inventory, but the prices on new listings will be influenced by the lagging OPTs.  Experienced home shoppers have given up on getting a deal, and instead are looking for the premium properties – only.

3.  New listings are likely to be rehashed.

We suffer from lax enforcement of the MLS rules here, and as a result, agents will ‘refresh’ (cancel and re-input) their listings – usually without changing the price.  Frustrated buyers and their agents think it is a hot new listing, and pay all the money; when in reality it’s been sitting on the market for weeks or months.  A few of these go pending each week – it works.  Buyer beware.

4.  Not many off-market deals.

Every time I check, the off-market deals only amount to 10% to 15% of all sales, which means you need to work with a good agent to snag one of the 85%.  Normal home-sellers demand the open-market exposure in order to achieve top dollar, so the off-market sales are typically the estate sales being sold by out-of-town heirs who want fast money.


School quality is a big driver of real estate demand.  The following are different areas of the North San Diego County’s Coastal region, with the scores of the elementary schools from, which isn’t a perfect measure but it’s all we got:

carmel valley map

Carmel Valley, 92130

The hot bed of local real estate action, due to the excellent schools and proximity to local employment centers.  All nine elementary schools are scored a 10; Sage Canyon, Ocean Air, Torrey Hills, Carmel Creek, Carmel Del Mar, Ashley Falls, Sycamore Ridge, Solana Pacific, and Solana Highlands (Solana Ranch not scored yet).  Decent houses start at $1,000,000.

La Jolla

All three public elementary schools in La Jolla are ranked a 10; Torrey Pines, Bird Rock, and La Jolla Elementary.  If you can find a decent house under $2,000,000, grab it.

Del Mar

Del Mar Heights Elementary scores a 10, and Del Mar Hills is a nine.  Expect to spend $1,500,000 for a decent house in the 92014.

Solana Beach

All schools score a 9 in Solana Beach proper, where you can buy a decent home in the low-$1,000,000s.

Rancho Santa Fe/Fairbanks Ranch

Those living in the RSF Covenant area can enjoy K-8 at the R. Roger Rowe School, and those around Fairbanks go to Solana Santa Fe – both schools score a 10.  Expect to spend at least $2,000,000 for something decent.


Three elementary schools rank a 10; Cardiff, Flora Vista, and Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary.  You can find decent houses in the $800,000s – only 48% of the homes sold this year closed over $1,000,000.


Carlsbad is the most populous town in the coastal region, and the furthest north, which plays a role for those who need to fight traffic daily going south.  There are five schools that score a 10, and all are in South Carlsbad; Pacific Rim, Aviara Oaks, Mission Estancia, El Camino Creek, and La Costa Heights.  You can still find a decent buy in the $700,000s, and 80% of houses sold this year closed under $1,000,000.  Carlsbad is split into three different school districts, which means getting to high school might be a trek.

All the high schools from La Jolla to Carlsbad rank 8s and 9s.

Yes, you can find houses for sale for less than mentioned here, but you really need a good agent – and I can help!

Posted by on Dec 17, 2014 in Why You Should Hire Jim as your Buyer's Agent | 13 comments

Online Auctions of Homes

If these home-auction companies spent $100 million per year on advertising, they could go mainstream – and pressure realtors to justify their existence.  Thankfully, sellers resist anything that sounds like they might give it away:

According to comScore, online sales so far this holiday season (November 1 – present) have risen over 16% against last year’s figures from the same time. Housing prices are also accelerating month-over-month and are predicted to reach pre-recession prices by mid-2015 ( With the average online purchase sitting at $180.94 (as of this year’s second quarter), selling real estate online seems like an unlikely scenario.

However, heavyweights in the online real estate auction space such as and are thinking otherwise. Both companies use an online auction model to sell homes to investors and would-be investors online; however, during this holiday season, both seem to be testing ways to give online home buying more mass market appeal.

Are we witnessing the marriage of e-retailing to real estate?

One example suggests the answer to this is yes. Homesearch recently brought on a new CEO, Kal Raman whose background as an eBay/Groupon executive may foreshadow where the industry’s headed. Earlier this month, Homesearch joined the Cyber Monday craze by launching what seemed to be the industry’s first Cyber Monday sale packed with discounts and buyer incentives on homes. These properties were auctioned online through Homesearch’s typical online auction process.

Their most recent promotion though consists of a “buy it now” price, similar to that of eBay, so instead of actually bidding for a home through an online auction, consumers will call Homesearch to receive a price via telephone. If a consumer likes the price and the extra incentives offered, they can purchase the property before it goes to auction (Homesearch handles much of the downstream closing process already). As eBay’s strategy made clear, there are masses of people who are uncomfortable joining an online auction but who react very well to bargain-basement fixed prices.

Given that Homesearch continues to grow their network of real estate agents and broker partners, is it a stretch to imagine the day when an agent shows homes in the neighborhood and then takes their client online to purchase?

In a space where nothing like this has been tested before it’s hard to know for certain how successful Homesearch and others will be trying to scale mass-market retailing strategies to real estate. However, if they’re really able to go the retail merchandising route and apply discounts of 20%-50% off the list price of homes for sale, I can see how people might be inspired to buy their next home online.

Posted by on Dec 16, 2014 in Auctions, Jim's Take on the Market, Thinking of Selling? | 13 comments