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Jim Klinge
Cell/Text: (858) 997-3801
701 Palomar Airport Road, Suite 300
Carlsbad, CA 92011

Category Archive: ‘Tips, Advice & Links’

Bathroom Tips


It may not be the grandest room in the house, but the bathroom is one of the most important when it comes to selling your home. Buyers want as many bathrooms as they can afford, and they want them pristine. So, if you’re getting set to host an open house, it’s time to spiff yours up! Here’s exactly what you need to do to get it ready:

Clean everything. You know this already: There’s nothing worse than walking into an open house and finding mildew, scum, hair (or worse) in and around the tub, toilet, and sink. Give your bathroom the kind of deep cleaning you’d usually reserve for when the in-laws visit. Ask yourself, “What would Martha Stewart think?” No rings around the tub, no soap scum on the shower door, no beard clippings in the sink. Use a mix of vinegar and water in a spray bottle to make mirrors sparkle—it’s an old-school recipe that gets fabulous results (just remember to wipe away streaks with either newspaper or a microfiber towel).

Hide your toiletries. That means toothbrushes, contact lens kits, loose makeup containers, hairspray bottles—anything that could clutter up your countertop goes into the medicine cabinet, under the sink, or wherever it won’t be seen.

Then put out nicer ones. Now is the time to break out those triple-milled imported soaps, or a nice handsoap and lotion duo. Think hotel bathroom.

Remove prescription drugs. We can’t stress this one enough. If you have a medicine cabinet full of allergy meds, sleeping pills, or anything else your doctor may have prescribed, either lock it in a safe or take it with you when you leave during the open house.

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Posted by on Mar 23, 2018 in Jim's Take on the Market, Staging, Tips, Advice & Links, Why You Should List With Jim | 0 comments

Sellers Are Listening

Hat tip to Richard for sending this in:

Jill Comfort, a Phoenix-area Realtor, had a good feeling about the cream-colored stucco house she planned to show her client, a young man relocating to the city from California. It was in his budget, in the right location and had a huge pool and back yard that would allow him to entertain.

It also had multiple surveillance cameras that recorded everything that went on as prospective buyers walked through.

“When we were walking out of the hallway we could see they were following us,” Comfort said. Both agent and client felt “awkward,” she added.

“I can understand where some sellers are leery of strangers walking through their house, but that’s what happens when you put your house on the market,” Comfort said. Her client, she said, was “creeped out.”

As homes become smarter, real estate agents and home buyers are increasingly finding there’s an extra set of eyes and ears on them as they tour properties for sale. In a 21st-century version of the “nanny cam,” Realtors describe everything from old-fashioned security cameras to newer contraptions like Nest thermostats tracking their conversations and actions. The rise of these wired home sellers is raising fresh concerns about privacy, courtesy and legality in a transaction that’s already fraught with emotion and potentially full of pitfalls.

Andie DeFelice is a broker with Savannah-based Exclusive Buyer’s Realty, Inc., and the president of the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents. Last fall, DeFelice took a client to see a home that seemed perfect for his specific needs: it had a detached combination two-car garage and studio with living room, kitchen and full bath — perfect for his grown son.

Shortly after the deal settled and her client had moved in, his new next-door neighbor introduced himself with some unsettling news, saying, as DeFelice put it, “I just want you to know the guy who sold the house knew he had a buyer the minute you walked through.” The neighbor wasn’t making it up: he was able to repeat the conversation client and broker had when they toured the house.

“It’s one of those things where it is the person’s home, they have the right to do whatever — but you feel a little violated,” DeFelice said.

Because the house was one of a very few with the unique feature that the buyer wanted, she added, the seller was right — her client was primed to buy the moment he stepped in the door. And he doesn’t feel that he tipped his hand unknowingly to the camera and then overpaid — although that’s a real risk for other buyers caught commenting during tours. What does rankle DeFelice about the encounter, she said, is that the previous owner referred to him as “the older guy” with a “younger” son when describing the transaction to his neighbor.

Rogers had a similar experience. She was selling the home of a couple who used a Ring Door Bell, now held by Amazon, even when their home was not on the market. Although they had signs about ongoing recording clearly posted — as is the law in Oregon — one buyer and her broker lingered on the porch, discussing the property.

Hearing the way the buyers talked about their property was “unsettling” for the sellers, Rogers said. Even though they were the ones capturing a conversation carried on by someone else,“they felt violated with the people standing on the porch talking about the house.”

Link to Article

Posted by on Mar 14, 2018 in Jim's Take on the Market, Tips, Advice & Links | 6 comments

Downstairs-Bedroom Guide

It is a common want/need these days for buyers to desire a downstairs bedroom, either for guests, or the multi-gen groups.  It is a need that is likely to grow, just because it will take more of grandma’s money to afford a house!

But it’s not always clear if a house has a downstairs bedroom.

How can you tell?  Check the number of bathrooms.

Here is my guide for knowing when a listing includes a downstairs bedroom:

Two Bathrooms – YES.  Most likely a one-story house, but if it is clearly a two-story, then it must have at least one bedroom down because you won’t have two bathrooms upstairs, and none down.

Two-and-a-Half Bathrooms – NO. In a two-story house, you need two full bathrooms upstairs for parents and kids.  The remaining half-bath will be downstairs, which is not suitable for a bedroom.

Three Bathrooms – YES.  There has to be one bathroom downstairs, and if it is a full bath, there’s a reason for it – there is a bedroom down too.

More than Three Bathrooms – YES.  You are getting into the luxury homes now, and they will have at least one bedroom downstairs.

Yes, this is only a guide, and there could be exceptions.  But if a floor plan doesn’t conform to these guidelines, then it is one funky house (like the split-level).  You probably won’t like it anyway!

Posted by on Mar 6, 2018 in Jim's Take on the Market, Thinking of Buying?, Tips, Advice & Links, Why You Should Hire Jim as your Buyer's Agent | 11 comments

Expert vs. Trainee

We covered in my four-part series that there is a vicious undercurrent of fraud and deceit being imposed upon buyers and sellers alike, and that drastic action is needed to stop it.  But such action is unlikely to happen – at least until the district attorney has a few perp walks to get everybody’s attention.

It means that Brad Inman’s conference needs to come up with a real humdinger of a solution.  In the meantime, maybe we can improve on what we have?

I mentioned that traditional agents are reluctant to say anything in public about how they do their business.  But now that the disrupters are spending millions on advertising, it’s time we step up to the microphone.

The disrupters’ underlying theme is that traditional agents charge 6%, and they will do the same for less.  Here they focus only on saving money on the commission, and never talk about what they actually do to sell your home:

Agents who only talks about their rate, rather than the quality of services they provide, must not have much to offer.  Their website has some data though – this is their main page:

We don’t have to look very far to see how trustworthy they are.  They say Bethany has ’10 YEARS EXP’, but when you go on the DRE website, this is what you’ll see – she has been licensed since 2016 (you can always get a hint from the license numbers, which are issued sequentially):

I’m sure she is a nice person and means well, but to use her as your front person when she barely has two years experience as a licensee probably means that the other agents have less.  Pardon me if I’m skeptical of how ‘intimate’ she, or any of their agents, know their LA/OC territory.

Companies who blatantly lie about the people on their main page will say anything to convince you they are legit. Ask yourself what you are willing to endure – you only have one shot.

Apparently they charge you the $3,200 fee whether they sell your house or not, and they take your credit card number up front.

Rex is another one – they claim to sell your house for 2% by themselves without cooperating with other agents. Here is reality:


You may like their sexy website, but who are the people handling your sale?  I have spoken to both current and ex-Redfin agents, and it sounds like a sweat shop – much like our local IPayOne, which failed twice, or Roxtons.  They are good people, but the employees are being asked to handle a high volume of business with minimal support.

Sellers should wonder if that will equate to a top-dollar sale.

An ex-Redfin senior agent told me that he quit when upper management insisted that he get ‘five more deals out of every agent’ this year.

Here are other opinions:

Here is what one ex-Redfin senior agent from Florida said last year:

I worked for Redfin for two and a half years. First as a transaction / hybrid coordinator then as a senior agent in the field. The concept is amazing but the reality will drown you. As a licensed broker who has over a decade of experience my base salary was $20,000 after “bonuses” paid (only after a glowing review from the client) my W-2 showed $42,000 income. Keep in mind I closed over $7 million dollars in real estate transactions last year. If you can’t close minimum of 3 transactions in a given month you are promptly let go for poor performance. With no cushion or savings because again top pay was 42k in the year. Your expected to have your schedule open for tours 7 days a week. Ready to meet a new customer not vetted not approved within a 3 hour window. Vacation is offered but is never approved. And in my market we were required to span over 300 Mile radius covering 4 counties. You are paid for each tour but it’s $35 and again you’re expected to drive 3 counties away at no notice just to be stood up. You will need to have knowledge of that area as well. Because your clients will review per tour and they will not appreciate an agent who is not knowledgeable. Please please please if you are considering joining this company be ready to give away all of your commission and time and learn from my experience. I’ve never written a review before but I’m passionate about getting this out there. Don’t believe their hype. Thank you for reading and considering.

How do they handle the critical points of engagement?

Want to see a house? A trainee gets paid $35 to $50 to open the door.

Sellers hoping for top dollar?  Trainees do the open houses.

The good agents there make around $3,000 per sale between salary and bonuses, while dealing with outside agents who make substantially more.  If you were a great agent, wouldn’t you work somewhere else to make more money selling fewer houses?



Sellers have one chance to hire a great agent to sell their house for top dollar.  Every agent can sell your house, and heck, you don’t even need an agent – just stick a sign in the front yard and you’ll get calls.

But houses don’t sell for the same price – there is a 5% to 10% range, depending on who is handling the sale.  You’ll hear that the market is hot, and that houses sell themselves – but for how much? Will your agent do everything it takes, AND have the expert salesmanship to get you top dollar?

If not, you are going to feel like a chump for falling for their BS advertising.

Posted by on Feb 20, 2018 in Jim's Take on the Market, Realtor, The Future, Thinking of Selling?, Tips, Advice & Links, Why You Should Hire Jim as your Buyer's Agent, Why You Should List With Jim | 7 comments

Remodeling Cost vs. Value

There has to be a lot of guesswork on these, so tread carefully.  If you want the specific survey for San Diego, it can be found at Remodeling Magazine – they have declared it as too special to be re-produced on the internet.  I’ll give an example – an upscale master suite addition would cost $285,000, but only return $150,000.  Hat tip to JA for sending this in!

CNBC article

As home prices and mortgage rates rise, more and more homeowners are choosing to stay put and remodel.

Yet, depending on the project, some of the returns are diminishing. Remodeling spending is expected to approach $340 billion in 2018, a 7.5 percent increase over last year, according to Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

“Steady gains in the broader economy, and in home sales and prices, are supporting growing demand for home improvements,” said Chris Herbert, managing director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies. “We expect the remodeling market will also get a boost this year from ongoing restoration efforts in many areas of the country impacted by last year’s record-setting natural disasters.”

More homeowners may be remodeling, but those who do high-end projects are seeing less value in those remodels — that is, the expensive upgrades and additions are paying back less in the resale value of homes, according to an annual cost versus value report from Remodeling magazine.

“It’s not clear if this is a sign of nervousness among real estate pros in the face of a booming housing market or if nationwide affordability concerns are leading pros to question the value of renovations that would make a house even more expensive at resale – particularly with the new tax law regarding the deductibility of mortgage interest and state, local and property taxes,” Craig Webb, editor in chief of Remodeling, wrote in a release.

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Posted by on Jan 26, 2018 in Jim's Take on the Market, Remodel Projects, Tips, Advice & Links | 2 comments

Earthquake Retrofit

Did you feel that shaker last night around 2am?

TRABUCO CANYON (CBSLA) — A moderate earthquake rocked a wide swath of Southern California early Thursday morning.

A magnitude-4.1 earthquake centered just west of the 15 Freeway, between Lake Elsinore and Corona, struck at 2:09 a.m.

The quake was felt as far north as Santa Clarita and south to San Diego.

CBS article

If you have a raised foundation, you should consider a retrofit – especially if you have cripple walls, which are the wood-framed supports between the raised foundation and floor of the house:

Just haul some pre-cut plywood under the house, and screw it up tight.

Posted by on Jan 25, 2018 in Jim's Take on the Market, Tips, Advice & Links | 1 comment

Climate Zones

From Sunset magazine:

Link to article

ZONE 23: Thermal belts of Southern California’s coastal climate

One of the most favored areas in North America for growing subtropical plants, Zone 23 has always been Southern California’s best zone for avocados. Frosts don’t amount to much here, because 85 percent of the time, Pacific Ocean weather dominates; interior air rules only 15 percent of the time. A notorious portion of this 15 percent consists of those days when hot, dry Santa Ana winds blow. Zone 23 lacks either the summer heat or the winter cold necessary to grow pears, most apples, and most peaches. But it enjoys considerably more heat than Zone 24—enough to put the sweetness in ‘Valencia’ oranges, for example—but not enough for ‘Washington’ naval oranges, which are grown farther inland. Temperatures are mild here, but severe winters descend at times. Average lows range from 43 to 48°F (6 to 9°C), while extreme lows average from 34 to 27°F (1 to –3°C).

ZONE 24: Marine influence along the Southern California coast

Stretched along Southern California’s beaches, this climate zone is almost completely dominated by the ocean. Where the beach runs along high cliffs or palisades, Zone 24 extends only to that barrier. But where hills are low or nonexistent, it runs inland several miles.

This zone has a mild marine climate (milder than Northern California’s maritime Zone 17) because south of Point Conception, the Pacific is comparatively warm. The winters are mild, the summers cool, and the air seldom really dry. On many days in spring and early summer, the sun doesn’t break through the high overcast until afternoon. Tender perennials like geraniums and impatiens rarely go out of bloom here; spathiphyllums and pothos become outdoor plants; and tender palms are safe from killing frosts. In this climate, gardens that include such plants as ornamental figs, rubber trees, and scheffleras can become jungles.

Posted by on Jan 21, 2018 in Jim's Take on the Market, Local Flavor, Tips, Advice & Links | 0 comments