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Category Archive: ‘Bidding Wars’

Buy/Sell Now or Later?

median cost per sf

What now?

Summer is over, and the so-called spring selling season is six months away.

Is it worth waiting?

Sellers want to believe that springtime is when all the young families with 2.2 kids will be looking to pay retail-plus.  But that belief ignores the trend – prices been fairly flat around higher-end areas.  Look at the graph above.  The only area that is a good bit higher today than in January is Rancho Santa Fe, which has been on a roller-coaster the last couple of years.

Predictions for next year?  From Zillow:

Zillow SD prediction 2017

Zillow was more pessimistic about 2016 too, so the +1.7% may end up being conservative.  But prices are already setting all-time records, so it is hard to imagine another big pop next year.

We as an industry aren’t used to flat pricing – the drama of violent price swings is much more exciting!  But flat pricing does make it easier, because it eliminates one of the major variables about moving.

If you are going to sell or buy at roughly the same price now or next spring, then which is better?


If you are buying and come across the right home at the right price, you sure don’t want any competition to screw it up for you!  There will be less competition during the next 4-5 months!

If you are selling in a flat market and have other active listings around you, what if one of them needs to sell worse than you do?  They could undercut your spring-selling-season-2.2-kids-retail-plus program, and leave you hanging.

Remember our Glendale realtor with the line out front?


There weren’t any good comps nearby all year – a great time to sell when nobody else is!  They ended up with 18 offers (6 were cash) and they had two cash buyers who wanted it so bad that they were willing to pay more than $100,000 over list price!

Thankfully there weren’t any good comps nearby to screw that up!


Posted by on Sep 6, 2016 in Bidding Wars, Forecasts, Jim's Take on the Market, North County Coastal, Sales and Price Check | 0 comments

Another Disrupter


Doesn’t it seem like there’s a new real estate app that’s going to slay the real estate industry every week or two?  Will they spend millions to advertise?  They need to make it lucrative for listing agents to bring their listings.

Garrett Camp, Uber cofounder and CEO of Expa Studios, is today unveiling Expa’s latest project, Haus.

Haus is the studio’s first real estate play and focuses entirely on the buying and selling of residential property, digitizing and organizing offers from buyers so that all parties (the buyer, seller, and agents) have more transparency and immediacy through the negotiation process.

There are plenty of startups out there that concentrate on discovery of properties, Camp said. But the issue that hasn’t really been touched by technology is that of making and accepting official offers.

Haus digitizes that entire experience, letting sellers put their listing on the platform, where buyers and their agents can both post their offers, amend them, and see an anonymized version of other offers that have been made on the property.

As it stands now, real estate brokers are shuttling offers to sellers’ agents via fax, email, or simply in-person. On the other side, sellers’ agents are trying to properly compile multiple offers in spreadsheets, in an email, or with pen and paper.

This might seem simple — write down all the best offers and pick the highest number, right? But there are a number of factors within a single offer beyond the actual overall price, including the financial security of the buyer, extra terms of the deal, amount of cash up-front, and more.

The real estate industry isn’t necessarily known for its transparency. While sellers’ agents are required to show them every offer on the table, buyers have little access to the actual movement on a particular listing.

Haus aims to clear up that opacity by showing each offer, with its unique nuances, to both the seller and the other interested buyers.

But this type of transparency is not without its potential downsides.

When a seller receives a few good offers on a home, the sellers agent will ask for best and last offer by noon tomorrow, for example. If buyers were able to see the terms of all the other offers, as they would when using Haus, then this could drive the price of the home up as buyers enter into a bidding war. Not to mention, unethical sellers or agents could artificially inflate the price of a home through shill bidding, as an offer is not legally binding.

While Haus helps sellers measure the demand on their property, it might also drive away potential buyers who don’t want to get in a bidding war over an already-expensive purchase. Or, on the other side, this might short a seller who would have received a much higher best and final bid from a buyer, but saw that offer drop to barely beat the next-best offer.

“We think the openness will create a more efficient market and that the number of offers and price will ultimately be dependent on demand,” said Haus GM Sarah Ham. “Bidding wars are a common, almost accepted, part of the real estate process today. But with our approach, buyers know where they stand. Buyers will know what they need to offer to make their offer competitive, but they also won’t negotiate against themselves.”

There may also be some concern over this replacing agents entirely, though Camp sees this as a complement to what brokers offer their clients, offering efficiency in the part of the process (compiling offers) that can be slow and time-consuming. Plus, most folks still need a broker’s expertise when it comes to marketing the home, finding a home, understanding the true value of a property, and of course, drafting up the paperwork.

While there may be some question over the transparency angle, Haus certainly offers way more efficiency when it comes to compiling and presenting offers to the buyer. Camp likens it to the town car industry of the past, which (as you might already know) was blown up by Camp’s previous startup, a little company called Uber.

“Collecting offers and presenting them is a very manual process, the way that town car companies would pick up a phone, write the fare on the board, and send the next available driver to that location,” said Camp. “It just seems much more efficient for agents to use a platform to coordinate all of this information automatically.”

Haus isn’t currently charging anything, but eventually they’ll pull from the broker fee once the company understands how it can generate extra business for realtors by saving them time during the negotiation process.

You can check out Haus for yourself right here.

Posted by on Jul 28, 2016 in Bidding Wars, Jim's Take on the Market, The Future | 0 comments

Bidding Wars 2016

Are there many sellers who will consciously “list it a little bit low”?  The hottest bidding wars are over the well-located houses that have many current upgrades – even those listed for retail.  P.S. This should be one of the last TV stories on bidding wars.

LARCHMONT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — It is getting tougher and tougher to find a home in the suburbs these days, with buyers going after all the same homes.

CBS2’s Lou Young had some tips Wednesday to proceed if you find yourself in a home buying bidding war.

Real estate agents said anyone shopping in the superheated New York suburban home market this season had best be prepared.

“Around here, you can get a listing on Friday, and by Sunday go to multiple bids,” said real estate agent Nancy Elsas.

Westchester County in particular is bidding war territory, with real estate agents setting the bait for multiple would-be buyers.

“I find that if you list it a little bit low, you’ll get multiple offers” and spark the war, said real estate agent David Turner.

One house in Bedford that Turner just sold went to sealed bids from three would-be buyers. Turner cautions people not to hold back when it gets to that point.

“I’ve had buyers call me after the conclusion of the bidding war and saying: ‘Can I go a little higher now? I’ve decided I really want it and I didn’t go high enough,’” Turner said. “Generally, there’s not that opportunity.”

Read full article here:

Posted by on Jul 14, 2016 in Bidding Wars, Jim's Take on the Market | 0 comments

Handling Multiple Offers



Our listing on Cherokee closed yesterday.

It was the 2,527sf three-story house that backed to the I-15 freeway – the one where we had 200+ people attend the open house.

The final tally at the Zillow page was 3,745 views, and 77 people had saved it as a favorite home, which are both extremely-high counts. (Josh was the seller)


Yesterday, we marveled at how the bidding war ended up.  The listing had hit the MLS on a Saturday, we had the open house on Sunday, and by Monday we had six offers.

Because not every bidder knew there was competition, we gave everyone the chance to submit their highest and best offer by Tuesday at noon.  I like to keep a tight timeline and promise buyers that we’ll select a winner promptly in order to retain as much urgency as possible.

The list price was $549,000.

At the end of the highest-and-best round, we had a $565,000 financed offer, a $570,000 cash offer, and a verbal $571,000 cash offer (the other three stuck with their $549,000 or $550,000 original offers).

The agent who wrote the $570,000 offer was 80 years old, and was using forms from five years ago.  I actually had to hand-write his original offer for him, but thankfully he was able to scratch out a one-sentence H&B.

Because I had concerns whether he could make it to the finish line, I pressed the $571,000 agent to get his deal in writing.  But he called back with bad news – his buyer, a savvy, multiple-property owner, decided it was too rich.

I called back the $570,000 agent, knowing that I’d be carrying his luggage for the next three weeks.  But he had more bad news – he took his buyer’s family to the house, and they vetoed the sale.

With the other three bidders unwilling to budge, we signed the $565,000 financed offer…..before they changed their mind!

Most people would have been tempted to hold out.  Yes, it would have been sexier to close escrow in 2-3 weeks with a cash buyer. But after 200+ open-house attendees and 50+ showings, are there two in the bush?

Though my phone hasn’t rang like this since back in the REO days, there was no disputing the facts – most people didn’t make any offer, and those that did weren’t in love enough to go crazy.  It was a trend that was likely to continue.

In spite of casual observers telling me we were giving it away, or it was too cheap, the actual results were telling.  The duty of the listing agent is to check the ego at the door, and focus on the facts.

We made the deal at $565,000, and it stuck.

Posted by on May 10, 2016 in About the author, Bidding Wars, Frenzy, Jim's Take on the Market, Listing Agent Practices, Market Conditions, Thinking of Selling?, Why You Should List With Jim | 3 comments

More Vancouver


Seen at Mish’s blog:

A Point Grey house with a stunning view has sold for more than $9 million — $1,172,000 over the property’s list price. The 1928 house on Bellevue Drive was offered for sale for $7.888 million.

Realtor Bo Park said the seller received 11 offers on the property after the first open house weekend. They were all cash offers with no subjects and most were for more than $8 million.

All but one of the offers were from Chinese buyers, she said.

“It was fast. I was surprised by the number of offers and the price it sold for,” said Park, a realtor with Sutton West Coast Realty.

“It was the view. It is spectacular.”

She said the house was an estate sale and the buyer plans to rent out the place then rebuild within a couple of years.

“The house needs a lot of work — at that price it makes sense to rebuild,” Park said.

Last week, a Kitsilano house on a standard city lot sold for $735,000 more the asking price.

“I’ve been doing this for close to 25 years and I’ve never seen anything like it,” Park said.

“There is not much product out there — that’s why things are so crazy. How long will this last? I have no idea.”


Posted by on Apr 10, 2016 in Bidding Wars, Frenzy, Jim's Take on the Market | 0 comments

Is It a Good Time to Buy A Home?

A twitter guy wants a yes or no answer to whether it’s a good time to buy.

He claimed that I said Yes, because of my post about it being a great time to buy if you’re selling a cheaper home and buying a more-expensive home. It’s because the higher you go price-wise, the colder the market gets.  Fred said it is a good time to buy as long as you don’t plan to move in the next five years.

It’s a question that deserves a full answer, not just yes or no.

The most common blog chatter is that history always repeats itself, and it will just be a matter of time before this cycle runs out.

The economic cycle will sputter again, but the housing market is different now.


Because distressed sales are well-managed. 

The California Homeowner Bill of Rights mandates that loan modifications be dangled in front of anyone in trouble.  The foreclosure process gets drawn out for months and years so we’ll never see a flood of trustee sales again.

As a result, making your mortgage payments has become optional.

If we have another economic downturn where homeowners can’t pay, then the government will insist that lenders give them a break.  The cast was set in the last crisis – the government will create bailout programs that allow everyone to kick the can down the road.

With distressed sales few and far between, the vast majority of home sales will be elective.  Sellers with the mantra – “I don’t have to sell, I’m in no hurry, and I’m not going to give it away!”

Prices will maintain a tight range of +/-5%, because the minute a seller thinks he is being forced to ‘give it away’, he will object.  Different neighborhoods will have periods of stall-out, where few or no buyers will pay what sellers want, and real estate loitering will be common.

But days of drastic price dips are gone.

The other buffers to a housing downturn include reverse mortgages, rampant flipper business, and baby-boomer estate distributions.

If today’s buyers have assurances of pricing protection, is it a good time to buy? Well, yes, if that’s all that matters.


But for most, it is a terrible time to be a buyer, which is different.

If you are on the low-end of your market, you can forget about buying your “dream house”.  The competition is fierce, and compromise required – if you can even get your hands on something.


My listing at 2022 Cherokee in Escondido – the one priced at $549,000?  We had six offers, and four of them were all-cash.  All were at list price or higher.

It was viewed 3,198 times on Zillow since Friday, and I received 100+ phone calls and texts from agents.  I had over 200 people visit the open house on Sunday, and it was probably shown at least 50 times between Monday and Wednesday.,-escondido_rb/

Almost all of the lookers didn’t offer, so they will be competing against each other on the next one – literally hundreds of buyers floating from new listing to new listing, hoping for a miracle.

Was it a giveaway?  Agent comments included, “Price was fair and reasonable’, and ‘The defects were properly discounted’ (defects included no direct access from house to backyard, master suite downstairs and kids’ bedrooms up, and it backs to the I-15 freeway – the rear fence was the CalTrans chainlink).

Buyers have to endure bidding wars on anything decent, no rules about how to win, and shady realtor tricks that seem to favor insiders.  Buyers are quick to jump to that conclusion, but it is more due to a realtor’s incompetence that bidding wars are vague and hard to win.

If you can get a house into escrow, it almost always happens that it’s condition is worse than imagined.  But sellers are in the driver’s seat, and do little or nothing to assist. Buyers usually end up feeling like they are buying an over-priced turd.

But it will probably be your turd forever!

Posted by on Apr 7, 2016 in Bidding Wars, Frenzy, Jim's Take on the Market, No-Foreclosure as Banking Policy, Thinking of Buying?, Why You Should List With Jim | 5 comments

Boston Real Estate


Another fast-paced market loaded with bidding wars! Link below:

In Competitive Boston Real Estate Market, Buyers Paying Way Over Listing Prices

BOSTON (CBS) — See a house for sale in Boston? Like the price? Don’t get too comfortable.

If you want to buy property in certain areas around the city, real estate agent David Bates says you should be prepared to shell out a lot more money than what the sellers are asking.

“We’re seeing, literally, condos selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the list price,” said Bates. “It’s almost like their listing prices don’t exist.”

Bates says limited inventory and a steady demand has created a market where buyers are typically going at least $50,000 over the asking price–and sometimes, a whole lot more.

“The highest over-ask in Boston was $675,000 more than the list price,” said Bates.

He says he’s never seen such a competitive market. He said another of the most extreme examples was a $15 million condo.

“Because the competition was so intense for it, it ended up selling for $15.4 million, $400,000 over,” said Bates.

Bates, who also authors the Bates Real Estate Report, says buyers need to know that going in, so they’re not shocked when a bidding war ensues.

“Buyers aren’t trying to negotiate value in Boston anymore,” Bates said. “They’re trying to win.”

The problem, Bates said, is happening in other markets, too–but he cautioned buyers who want their money to go further to consider a town or neighborhood just a little farther down the line.

“If you’re thinking in Cambridge, you can move one market over and consider Somerville,” suggested Bates. “If things seem too overwhelming, too competitive that you’re not getting enough for your money, consider the next market over.”

Bates says he warns his clients to be ready so they can make a decision–either offer up more money, or consider a different location.

Posted by on Mar 1, 2016 in Bidding Wars, Jim's Take on the Market, Market Buzz, Market Conditions | 0 comments

Longer-Than-Usual Boom?

Could a booming real estate market continue longer than expected?

The historical norm has been a ten-year pattern – five years up, and five years down.  But we’ve never had the government-sponsored artificial market benders like ultra-low rates and a no-foreclosure policy before.

I was speaking with some Canadians yesterday, and they said the Toronto market has been positive for twenty years straight – and now a decent house cost $3,000,000.  The dollar valuation on both sides of the border has contributed, but the market psychology is such that prices keep rising.  The supply and demand is out of whack, and bidding-war strategies are in place on every listing.


This Toronto realtor mentioned that only 1 out of 200 deals fall through, and that the ‘bully offer’ tactic is common but rarely successful.  Instead, they employ the ‘offer night’ strategy:

This is why listing agents host “offer night” in the brokerage, and encourage buyer’s agents to show up in person, and even bring their buyers.  Try and picture that lobby, with eight agents, all waiting, all sizing each other up.  Maybe two or three agents brought their clients and are pacing outside.  A couple agents are on their cell phones, and others are whispering in the corner of the room.

That is how you create artificial demand, through emotion, anxiety, and an all-around frenzy.

Read more here:

One of the commenters there also suggested this strategy:

What the real estate business needs to implement is a ‘Stalking Horse Auction’. Stalking Horse Auctions are common in bankruptcy proceedings because they offer stakeholders the greatest transparency and maximise value.

It starts out with the “stalking horse” bid, this is one person who generally agrees to be the “stalking horse” to put forth the opening bid which will be revealed to all other participants. Other people who wanted to submit a bit would then see what the initial offer is going to be decide if they want to bid higher. Those bids are then disclosed to the ‘stalking horse’ who then decides if they wish to put forth a bid higher than those other bids. If the ‘stalking horse’ decides that they want to best the highest bid then they would walk away with the house, if not it goes to the highest bidder.

The ‘stalking horse’ is selected by having everyone sending in their initial bid and the highest one takes it.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Stalking horse sets the market and might bid too much in their initial offer. The other bidders get to see the ‘stalking horse’ offer and have an opportunity best that offer but could again be bested by the ‘stalking horse’ in the end.

The reason these auctions would never work in Toronto real estate is that their fair, transparent and take the power away from the agents and put it in the hands of the seller.

There could be more to look forward to if this market keeps going!

Posted by on Feb 24, 2016 in Bidding Wars, Jim's Take on the Market, Listing Agent Practices, Market Conditions | 0 comments