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Category Archive: ‘Thinking of Buying?’

3D Home Tour

3D camera

Carlos Hernandez from did a 3D home tour of my new listing, using his Matterport camera.  Here’s how it turned out:

This technology will be the next step in selling houses from afar – do busy people really need to visit in person after seeing these video presentations? It helps to screen out the actual showings too, because there is no hiding anything – if a viewer sees something they don’t like, they can save themselves a trip.

Big picture?  Eventually, the Matterport company will have a library of every house in America….but wait, it’s my listing, and I paid for the tour!

Here is Carlos describing what he does:

Posted by on Jan 28, 2016 in Bubbleinfo TV, Jim's Take on the Market, Listing Agent Practices, The Future, Thinking of Buying?, Thinking of Selling?, Tips, Advice & Links, Why You Should List With Jim | 6 comments



Not only are retirees trying to downsize, but the kids are hanging around longer too.  The excellent research by John Burns has put some numbers on the one obvious outcome – multi-generational living.

Percentages in the 40s and higher are more than a blip – the vast amount of downsizing and multi-gen households is a game-changer:

14% of all US households (16.5 million households!) now live multi-generationally, and the numbers continue to rise for three reasons:

A. Delaying marriage has increased the number of young adults living with parents.
B. Surging retirement has increased the number of retirees living with children.
C. Significant immigration from countries where multigenerational living is the norm has also helped boost the numbers.

Most of the US housing stock was not built for multigenerational living, providing a tremendous opportunity for home builders. According to our Consumer Insights survey of more than 20,000 new home shoppers, 44% would like to accommodate their elderly parents in their next home. Additionally, 42% of today’s shoppers plan on accommodating their 18+ older children in their next home.

This focus on providing housing to extended family or friends may also account for 65% of respondents desiring a bedroom with bath on the ground level and 24% wanting a suite with a kitchenette and small living area.

Click below for full article and designs:

Posted by on Jan 26, 2016 in Downsizing, Jim's Take on the Market, One-Story, The Future, Thinking of Buying?, Thinking of Selling? | 0 comments

Pride-of-Ownership Test


Anyone who has looked at homes lately can attest to the surprising conditions in which people live.  The lack of maintenance transcends all price points too.

But it’s nothing money won’t fix.

Buyers should surrender early on……and expect to spend at least $25,000 to $50,000 on any house they buy.  It’s easier than trying to find the perfect house that doesn’t need anything.

But looking at houses then turns into a job of making lists of the repairs required. Is there a way to short-cut that process, and just use one simple gauge to know if the house could be a money pit?

When I enter a house, I still walk straight to the backyard first.  It is there that you will find the items that are hard or impossible to fix; yard too small, road noise, neighbors looking in, over-sized pools, etc.

Once we’re past that test, and everyone is getting comfortable with the interior layout, I make my way to the place where you can find the most clues about the seller’s pride of ownership.

The Master Bath – a place where the sellers spend time every day.  The most extreme conditions exist too – high use of hot and cold water, steam and mold conditions, multiple plumbing functions, venting, several appliances in use, laundry processing, etc.  There’s a lot of action going on in the master bath!

With all the action, is somebody keeping up with repairs?

If any room is going to be well-maintained, it is the master bath.  It’s not that big, and the moving parts are simple – a towel rack, a toilet-paper roller, lighting, fan, grout, window, sinks – easy stuff.

Plus, every guy wants to keep his wife happy – so if he is going to fix anything, it will be here.

No need to get into any personal items – just checking the hardware:

  1.  Are the towel racks secure?
  2.  Toilet-paper roller intact?
  3.  Drywall outside the shower or tub wet or damaged?
  4.  Adequate electrical outlets?
  5.  Toilet secured tightly to floor?
  6.  Toilet works properly?
  7.  Sinks drain normally? (two sinks are a must)
  8.  Adequate water pressure at sinks and shower?
  9.  Fan is quiet? Window works well?
  10.  Any sign of biological discoloration?
  11.  Baseboards are dry and tight?
  12.  Mirrors look good?
  13.  Ample lighting?
  14.  Mineral deposits on glass doors?
  15.  Shampoo bottles have a home?
  16.  Solid coat of semi-gloss paint?
  17.  Crisply-applied caulk, especially around the shower faucet?
  18.  Solid and tight grout lines?
  19.  Door that locks easily?
  20.  Is the floor of the sink cabinet dry?

If you are in a hurry or tend to get caught up in the excitement of looking at houses, then just concentrate on what you see in the master bath.

If you check off every item above, then the rest of the house should be in good shape too.  But if the sellers aren’t maintaining this room that has complex features but simple fixes – especially when on the market – then they probably haven’t done much to keep up the rest of the house either.

Posted by on Jan 19, 2016 in Jim's Take on the Market, Repairs/Improvements, Thinking of Buying?, Thinking of Selling?, Tips, Advice & Links | 4 comments

Sniff Test


With inventory scarce and buyers aplenty, there really shouldn’t be any reason a house doesn’t sell these days.

Yet, they’re not all selling.

In 2009 and 2010, buyers couldn’t go wrong – all you needed was guts.  But as our market hits a maturing stage, the risks are higher that buyers can pay too much, and/or buy a money pit.

How do you know?  Let the days on market be your guide.

A. If a new NSDCC listing under $1.5 million doesn’t have offers in the first 7-10 days, then something is wrong with it (and it might not be price).

B. If any listing has been on the market for more than 30 days, or has been refreshed, it confirms that something isn’t right.

It’s a buyer’s job is to figure out why it’s not selling, and in most cases it is just price. The most common marketing plan for sellers is to wait until the market catches up, or until they just get lucky. Buyers decide the rest.

But if the price seems close enough and a house still isn’t selling, how can buyers protect themselves from getting stuck with a house with undesirables?

The sniff test is when you know others buyers have considered the house, and passed on it.  If you hear a listing agent say they’ve had lots of showings or you see a number of agent business cards left at the house, you have to wonder why it hasn’t sold.

Be rigorous during your tour of the house. Once you have enjoyed the positives, find the negatives and determine if they can be remedied and at what cost.

  1.  Be listening for road noise and dogs barking – the two most annoying sounds to avoid. Visit at different times of the day.
  2.  Are the grounds wet? Compare to neighbors to see if it is just over-watering or a bigger problem.
  3.  Listen for aircraft – is the house under a flight path?
  4.  Talk to neighbors about house defects and neighborhood concerns.
  5.  When in backyard, are neighbors looking in?
  6.  Does it have a pool?  They are usually a neutral value at best, due to risk.
  7.  Once inside the house, are the upgrades current? Or were they done 5-10 years ago, and now getting the dated look?
  8.  Is there enough natural light inside? Turn lights off to test.
  9.  Is the ceiling height acceptable?
  10.  Does the floor plan make sense?  Larger rooms?
  11.  Is there separation between the master and kids bedrooms?
  12.  If homes are close together, are there smokers or noise-makers around?
  13.  Check crime statistics and sex offenders’ website.

These are items that may not get divulged on the seller disclosures, nor the home-inspection report – because these items are more concerned with personal taste and tolerance, and not about things that are broke.  But you want to factor them into your decision – because if buyers aren’t buying this house today and you can’t fix it, you will have the same problem when you re-sell it.

Divide defects into curable and non-curable categories, and determine what you can’t live with, and assess a value to those you can. Many buyers throw homes out with the bath water, so this could be an opportunity, for those willing to tackle a fixer.

There is a difference between fixes and improvements too.  You can fix just about everything for $5,000 or less – things like roof repair, new furnace, removing a cottage-cheese ceiling, etc. – those are fixes.  Major improvements such as kitchen or bathroom remodels are more extensive but there are several online estimators to get ballpark ideas on costs.

It is easy to get caught up in the moment and relish the positives when seeing a house the first time.  To keep it all in perspective, remember one question.  If it is such a great house, how come it’s still for sale?  Doing your own head-scratching might save you a few home-inspection fees – or more!

Posted by on Jan 16, 2016 in Jim's Take on the Market, Thinking of Buying?, Why You Should Hire Jim as your Buyer's Agent | 4 comments

Sellers Have Teflon Memories


As the refreshed listings continue to pour onto the MLS, the calls are coming.

“Jim, let’s send in a low offer!”

These refreshed listings aren’t fooling as many people these days because the listing histories are on the front page of the portals (including

But sellers want to blame the holidays for not selling, and believe the new year will bring better luck!  Add one more tool of deception – the listing refresh – and they have a new listing, a new year, and new excitement!!

Everyone just wants to be excited!

Well, except the buyers who just want to buy a house, not play games.  But refreshed sellers and their agents will wait for weeks or months before adjusting their price – hoping there might be one more buyer left who isn’t tracking the total days on market.

Buyers: Let the ‘refreshed’ sellers go first.  Wait until their next price reduction before offering – at least then you have some indication that they might be more motivated than the rest.

Posted by on Jan 6, 2016 in Jim's Take on the Market, Listing Agent Practices, Thinking of Buying? | 0 comments

No More Doom

govt loves bubbles

As a new year begins, there has to be people wondering how much longer the market can stay buoyant.  Even with rates staying low, home buying is out of reach for many, if not most San Diego residents, and wages don’t seem to be going up much.

Is the bubble going to pop again?

This guy has been our perpetual doomer, and is one of the only four ‘experts’ out of 108 who said that prices could go down in the next five years. He has summarized all the reasons of possible doom here:

The thing he ignores is that the government is totally supportive of housing.  They bailed us out last time, and it left an indelible mark.

The turning point for The Big Bailout was in 2011 when Bernanke literally told the banking industry to ‘not do anything to harm the economy’, which was code for ‘Stop Foreclosing’:

Since then, the number of  foreclosures have dropped like a rock, and after Kamala passed the California Homeowners’ Bill of Rights, lenders are required to coddle defaulting homeowners for as long as possible.

The result is a very soft landing for any borrower who doesn’t feel like making their payments.  The banks can stretch out any necessary foreclosure activity for months or years, and spread them around evenly so they don’t ‘harm the economy’.

If you are a potential home buyer who is concerned about future foreclosures causing home prices to drop, I hope that relieves any fears.  Buy a house you can comfortably afford, and stay forever.

For those who want to check for foreclosures, see below:

Posted by on Jan 5, 2016 in Foreclosures, Jim's Take on the Market, Market Buzz, Market Conditions, Thinking of Buying? | 2 comments

Real Estate Tips for 2016

moving tips

Happy New Year!

Are you thinking of selling and/or buying this year?

Here are some ideas to hopefully give you an edge in conquering what usually ends up being the 1% to 2% difference between the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat!

Home Sellers

  1.  The new listing agreement suggests getting a home inspection prior to hitting the market. It’s a good idea; fix what’s wrong in advance, and then give buyers a copy to demonstrate your pride of ownership.
  2.  Know where you are going to move, and only hit the open market when you are 100% committed to selling. You might get an offer the first day.
  3.  Showing the house is inconvenient but necessary – the more you do it, the better your chances.  Be ready to show the house on the day it hits the open market – and expect dozens of lookers to visit in the first 7-10 days.
  4.  Do two things to make a great first impression; spruce up the curb appeal and insist on top-quality photos.
  5.  Be smart about price.
  6.  Ask agents about bidding war strategies, and recent experiences.  Spreading out the offers on your coffee table and picking one isn’t a strategy.
  7.  Avoid gimmicks like range pricing or ‘coming soon’.  A clean, straight-forward approach is attractive to buyers.
  8.  Determine if a company brand name is a benefit or a crutch.
  9.  Real estate ‘teams’ means you get passed around. Make sure to identify who handles the buyer inquiries, and that they are top-notch sales people.
  10. The buyers you want to attract – the ones that pay too much – are represented by lousy agents who don’t know the difference.  Get Good Help – hire a listing agent who can carry any agent to the finish line.

Home Buyers

  1. See more houses in person.  You have to keep your chops up, because low inventory causes complacency.  If all you do is shop online, you’ll look for any reason NOT to buy, and stay home. But there are no perfect houses.
  2.  Start looking at least six months before your lease is up.
  3. There aren’t many rules, and every listing agent is different.  Work with an agent who has a track record getting buyers to the finish line.
  4.  Don’t expect much from sellers regarding repairs.
  5.  Be open to fixers. To get more comfortable, line up contractors in advance and ask for a sample quote so you know what to expect.
  6.  Expand the target zone, but buy in a great school district.
  7.  If affordability is an issue, compromise on size before location. You can always add on later.
  8.  Properly evaluate the negatives, and the appropriate discounts.
  9.  Know what to do in a bidding war.
  10.  Your agent should suggest an offer price, and a strategy behind it.

These are some basic, general tips, but the best thing you can do is to get an experienced agent on your side – someone who is closing at least a sale per month (check at zillow).  I am available, and would love to assist you!

Posted by on Jan 1, 2016 in Bidding Wars, Jim's Take on the Market, Listing Agent Practices, Thinking of Buying?, Thinking of Selling?, Tips, Advice & Links | 4 comments

Rich Says No Bubble


After the recent article by Zillow on whether the San Diego market is in a bubble, the UT conducted their own investigation. Thankfully, they talked to our old friend Rich Toscano:

An excerpt:

The San Diego man who predicted the housing crash on his blog Professor Piggington’s Econo-Almanac, Rich Toscano, agrees that San Diego is not in a housing bubble, although he was not part of the Zillow survey.

Toscano, a partner at Pacific Capital Associates, said overvaluation can best be tracked by looking at rent, income and home prices together. In mid-2005, home prices shot up 75 percent over historic median levels. Today, they are 19 percent over those historic median levels.

“Valuations (now) are like prior cyclical peaks but nothing like the bubble,” he said. “A lot of people say prices are like the bubble so that means it’s just like the bubble. So they kind of ignore we’ve had 10 years of rents and incomes going up.”

He said the mood back in 2005 was “you’re a complete idiot if you don’t buy” because housing can only ever go up. An example of the psychology changing is that people are asking all of the time if housing is in a bubble.

“What you really care about is if you are way overpaying,” Toscano said. “Sure, housing is expensive but it is nothing like it was during the bubble.”

The Zillow survey, conducted by Massachusetts-based Pulsenomics, listed the St. Louis market as the least likely to face a bubble with 34 out of 36 analysts saying there was no significant risk in the next five years.

Pulsenomics interviews more than 100 economists, investment strategists and housing market analysts in quarterly surveys. Not all respondents answer every question so the number of analysts responding to the bubble question varies.

Read full article here:


Posted by on Dec 11, 2015 in Jim's Take on the Market, Market Conditions, Thinking of Buying?, Thinking of Selling? | 5 comments

NSDCC November Sales

Last week we saw that there was a 17% surge in the number of new listings towards the end of this year, compared to 2014.

What is the effect on closed sales?  The impact could go either way.

More well-priced listings could energize the market, and sales increase. Or a bunch of OPTs could cause buyers to wait and see.

It looks like a mix of both so far – November sales are up 6% year-over-year, and a few late-reporters could bump that a little higher:

# of Sales
Avg. SF
Median SP
Avg. $/sf
Avg. DOM

The median sales price for November increased 34% since 2012, and the average cost-per-sf is up 31%.

I overhead a realtor comment that their manager thinks that people want to buy now before the new president gets elected. It made me think of the surprise surge of sales we saw during the last election at the end of 2012 that led to the Great Frenzy of 2013. The market could keep going – especially if we get a load of new listings that are well-priced!

Posted by on Dec 8, 2015 in Jim's Take on the Market, North County Coastal, Sales and Price Check, Thinking of Buying?, Thinking of Selling? | 0 comments