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Category Archive: ‘Auctions’

Home-Price Negotiations


When it comes down to the last 2% to 4% on price negotiation, why is there so much trouble putting a deal together?

It because the participants had no strategy going in – they just start making offers or counter-offers without regard to where it will lead.

Without a specific strategy, it’s too easy for either party to throw their hands up and say, “I don’t know how I got here, and I don’t like it!”.

This is another reason why we should adopt the auction format to home-selling.  The auctioneer has a very specific strategy on price, and the increments of change – all the buyers have to do is say yes or no.

Until the auction format takes over, what can we do?

My ideas on offer/counter-offer strategy:

  1.  Keep It Simple – Negotiate in 25-50-75-99 increments, they are easier for the receiver to compute the differences.  It also helps to give the other party a strategy for their response – if they are paying attention.
  2.  More Simple – If you can’t get on a 25-50-75-99 track, then sellers’ counter-prices end with a nine ($879,000), and buyers end with a zero ($850,000 or $860,000).
  3.   Buyers – Have your initial offer reflect the days on market. If you offer 5% under the list price on a house that has been listed for 3 days, you won’t get a response.  Make the same offer 3 months later and the seller should be happy to engage.
  4.   Velocity – Make a big price move with your first counter-offer to encourage the other party (heck, they might be so happy they just sign it), but then pull back on the second round.
  5.   Don’t Go Longer Than Two Rounds of Counters – Parties get tired of playing, and burnout sets in quickly.
  6.   Expect to Split the Difference at Some Point – it’s a win-win solution.
  7.   Know the Other Agent’s Level of Competence – If the other agent sells less than one house per month, they are likely to willy-nilly the process. Your agent needs to help them along.

If you are the buyer, it would be nice to pick up some signs along the way to assist with setting a price strategy, and lay out your expectations mentally.

Signs of seller motivations, and what a buyer can expect:

  1.   How difficult it is to see the home.  If the listing agent blows you off for a day or two, or wants to show the house at their convenience, not yours – then you can expect tough sledding ahead.
  2.   How quickly they responds to your offer/counter.  If the sellers doesn’t respond within 24 hours, it means they don’t understand buyer’s remorse – and don’t care.
  3.   How close they stick to list price.  The closer they stick, the more (over)confident they are.
  4.   Who the seller picked for a listing agent will tell you just about everything you need to know about your chances of success.  If they select a reputable, experienced agent, then you will know because the house looks sharp, it’s easy to see, and the price is attractive. If they picked a loser, then the photos are terrible, the house looks like crap, it’s hard to see, and the price is 10% higher than comps, or on a goofy range.

Remember that it takes four things to make a deal – the right house, the right list price, the right seller, and the right listing agent.  If any of those four are out of whack, then a deal is unlikely.

Get Good Help!

Posted by on Oct 11, 2016 in Auctions, Jim's Take on the Market, Listing Agent Practices, Why You Should Hire Jim as your Buyer's Agent, Why You Should List With Jim | 0 comments

Bruce Avenue Closed!


Here’s the follow-up to the Glendale story that started here:

As you can see in the video,  the house was all original from 1941. There was a deliberate attempt by the trustee and agent to price-in the condition, and select a list price towards the bottom of the range.

This is the type of neighborhood that can vary block to block, depending on upgrades – so you’d like to have comps within a block or two, ideally.  The most recent comp on the block was the $685,000 for a 4br/2ba, 2,114sf house across the street that closed in April, 2015:

bruce comps

(the $707,000 is a pre-foreclosure)


There were others further away in the $600,000s, so starting with an attractive list price of $624,999 made sense (the subject property is green dot on map).

The half-hour open house took place on a Sunday, and bidders had until Wednesday to submit their offer.

18 offers were received, and six were all-cash!

The cash offers were asked for their highest and best, and not one but TWO offers of $730,000 were submitted – one was from the next-door neighbor!  But his agent struggled with the paperwork, and there was some mis-direction too. But the other buyer had made the best initial offer of $725,500, and had upped it to $730,000 just to add a little extra mustard.

With the identical cash offers and both with short escrow periods, it came down to the agent – who best had their act together.  The neighbor didn’t get it – which could lead to some frosty conversation over the hedge!

Seven days later, the escrow closed at $730,000 as-is (no repairs requested).

It shows the power of the auction format, and how turning the sales process into a competition gets buyers fired up about winning – usually at all costs!

Two cash buyers were willing to pay more than $100,000 over list!

The good things that happened to assist:

  1.  There was one comp at $740,000.
  2.  It must have been a fair competition.
  3.  Prices are going up so fast in these older but quality neighborhoods that it feels like a runaway train to buyers, and they are desperate to grab anything.

But more than anything, it shows that with a good agent and a proper bidding process, it makes sense to put an attractive price on it.  If they would have listed for $729,000, they would still be sitting there!


Posted by on Sep 20, 2016 in Auctions, Jim's Take on the Market, The Future | 4 comments

One-Story Premiums

2016-04-10 15.23.25

Richard and I were discussing the phenomenon of houses selling for prices that are well-above comps – and how they almost always end up being all-cash sales.

Back in the day, the cash buyers always demanded the best deals – figuring that because they were paying cash, they somehow deserved a better price.  But today, cash buyers are throwing around big money to get what they want.

What do they want?

What do they need?

We know that the one-story homes have always been popular, especially with seniors. Guess who has all the money? Yep – the older set.

But there is more to it. Buyers get pickier as prices go up, and now they want everything.  You can’t blame them – we are at record prices!

My rule-of-thumb has been that one-story houses sell for a 10% premium over two-story houses. But I think the gap is increasing, and for single-level houses that also have the other valued features like 3-car garage, view, and a low-maintenance but attractive yard, there is a combo premium too.

Part of the pricing pressure is due to the inventory differences. Here’s a look at South Carlsbad over the last six months:

Detached-Home Listings in 92009 and 92011

ACT Listings
Avg. LP/sf
SOLDS last 6 mo.
Avg SP/sf

If you prefer one-story homes, there aren’t many to consider, and the cost-per-sf premium of the solds is 24%!

When analyzing the comps, you can’t compare 1-story and 2-story homes together – they are two separate markets.

Here are two examples of one-story homes listed yesterday:

6678 Cabela, Carlsbad, 92011

6387 Huntington, Carlsbad, 92009

You can buy two-story homes that are 600-800sf larger nearby for the same price – or less.  But because both of these have other premium features (views, lower-maintenance yards, 3-car, and no pools), and the selection of one-story houses is scant, these two stand a good chance of selling promptly!

With 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 years old every day, it’s understandable that one-story homes are fetching a premium, which today appears to be 10% to 20% above two-story homes.

What is the combo premium for the one-story houses with the extras?  It has to be another 10% minimum, and for those that have it all, there is no ceiling.

It means that the method of selling will determine the outcome.

If the seller hires a regular realtor who compares the super-duper one-story to other two-story homes nearby, there will be money left on the table.

This is where the auction format could really pay off. Bidders are uncertain about calculating the value of the extra features, and getting them into a competitive environment will cause them to pay whatever it takes to win.

Get good help – hire a realtor who can evaluate the premiums, and create an auction-like format to ensure top dollar!

Posted by on Jun 11, 2016 in Auctions, Boomers, Jim's Take on the Market, Market Buzz, Market Conditions, One-Story | 1 comment

China Real Estate Update

frantic homebuying

The government lowered the down-payment requirements and cut transaction taxes in half – and the market took off.  Look at the photo above!  Can you imagine a marketplace where bidders are shouting over the counter? I can!

Let’s auction!

P.S. My blog post #5 today. Look out!

An excerpt:

Resale prices have also surged in tandem with the latest housing boom in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen that saw home prices rise 20 to 30 percent since the Chinese Lunar New Year (Feb 8th). In my neighborhood, three-bedroom apartments now cost 6-8 million yuan, or about eight to 10 times more than what they cost when the estate was launched eight years ago.

My cell phone has been ringing now and then with calls from agents who urge me to sell my duplex apartment and upgrade into a luxury home. But I’ve seen too much to budge even with the regulators’ warning to ease the pressure, like acting hard against easy home loans for low-down-payment mortgages.

Probably anyone familiar with the housing market would doubt if developers and agents who assist buyers with the loans, were the main culprit for the unexpected wave of property buying.

For some young buyers, it’s common for their parents to dish out the down payment, assuming they will repay in the future. But many more would offer to pay in installments over several months during which they could sell their current houses and arrange for loans?such as loans from developers and agents?in case of a shortfall. The danger of a looming US-style subprime crisis might have been largely exaggerated.

Instead, a spate of property easing measures, easy credit, concerns about shortages of housing supply and recent stock routs have worked together to unleash some residents’ pent-up demand for nicer and bigger homes in major cities.

For example, to encourage people to buy houses, interest rates have been lowered and transaction tax on bigger flats with a size of at least 140 square meters, has been cut from 3 percent to 1.5 percent, which means steep savings for buyers because such deals usually involve several millions of yuan.

The market’s return back to life has also reinforced the popular belief that housing prices will only go up. Over the years, the government has tried to curb price rises by imposing a series of conditions on purchase. But each time, after a short, slight dip, prices have rebounded with a vengeance, leaving those wishing for big falls cursing their gullibility and slow moves.

After the stock turmoil last year, property proves again to be the best investment vehicle that the wealthy could park their funds in and middle-class urbanites build their nesting eggs with. While many homebuyers laugh their way to the bank, most stock investors have experienced anger and regret after their money evaporated in market meltdowns.

Posted by on Mar 21, 2016 in Auctions, Jim's Take on the Market | 0 comments

Auction Update


Auctions have a seat at the house-selling table, and their ultra-low opening bids are eye-catching for buyers hungry for new product.  Will one player emerge from the pack to dominate the space, or will every realtor be offering an auction option some day? These guys are figuring it out – it’s better to cozy up to agents, rather than try to replace.

From the

The hors d’oeuvres and drinks were flowing at an broker party in Midtown last week when Rick Sharga shushed the crowd of commercial real-estate brokers to explain to them why the online property-sales service is their friend, not their competitor.

About 75 brokers from the New York region were at the event, lured in part by’s promise to give away five $1,000 gift certificates. The service—one of the largest online property-auction sites—also is offering brokers $5,000 for simply listing one of the properties they represent on the site, whether or not it’s actually sold.

“We believe the best model is a hybrid model” that combines traditional brokerage and’s online bidding service, Mr. Sharga, an executive vice president with the firm, told the crowd. is launching a major push to develop stronger ties with brokers as part of a broader effort to expand its commercial-property business. The firm, which started online real-estate auctions in 2008, has been listing commercial property since 2009.

But so far its volume has been dominated by residential sales.

The firm expects to sell 1,000 to 1,500 commercial properties this year and 50,000 to 60,000 homes.

Read full article here:

Posted by on Nov 16, 2015 in Auctions, Jim's Take on the Market | 0 comments

Boomer Auction

auction house

A 15-bedroom American mansion with a guitar-shaped driveway has gone up for auction – with a starting bid of $0.

Seven Montagel Way will go under the hammer on October 31.

The 27-acre property in Shoal Creek, Alabama comes with a horse riding arena and a fitness centre.

The impressive 16-bathroom property includes a decadent foyer with ceiling murals and crystal chandeliers.

It also boasts a screening room with a 170-inch screen, theatre-style seating for 25 people and an authentic box-office, a commercial-grade elevator, a wine cellar with shelving for 2,000 bottles and a game room.

In 2011 the property was listed for $17.9 million (£11.67million) by owner Larry House – the former CEO of MedPartners, a firm that supplies staff to hospitals and medical centres – but he removed it after it failed to sell.

Last year, the house was put on the market again for $13.9 million (£9million). At the time, Pam Ausley, the listing agent, said the property awas too big for Mr House.

She said: ‘Their kids are grown, and they’re just ready to do something different. He knows it’s not the best time to sell, but he’s just ready.’

Mr House also put the property up for auction in 2003 but bought it back when it sold for just $3.95 million (£2.57million).

CEO and founder of DeCaro Luxury Auctions, Daniel DeCaro, said: ‘Inspired by historic French and Italian castles of Europe, architect Bill Shepard designed 7 Montagel Way to feel like a traditional palace in Versailles.

Read more: LINK

Posted by on Oct 15, 2015 in Auctions, Boomer Liquidations | 0 comments