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Category Archive: ‘Tips, Advice & Links’

Buying-Difficulty Gauge

downtown-san-diegoLast week we saw that San Diego was #1 in the nation for least affordable housing compared to the renter’s median income.

This article ranks the Top 10 cities in America by median list price, with the highest eight cities all located in California (San Diego is #7):

The data is from, which not only tracks the median list prices, but they also log the inventory counts for each city.  The MLS coverage may not match up exactly to the metro areas, but let’s compare inventory-to-census populations to gauge the potential competitiveness:

Metro Area
Active Listings
Median LP
San Jose
San Francisco
New York City
LA-Long Beach
San Diego
Orange Co.

Seattle and Denver don’t get mentioned on the highest-priced lists, but the difficulty of buying a home there is duly noted. The actual San Diego residential inventory today is 6,709, or a 473:1 ratio, which would push us up into the same group, and we’d have the highest median LP of those five areas.

Interestingly, the Orange County inventory is 64% higher now than it was a year ago, while the San Diego inventory is only 15% higher Y-O-Y.

Posted by on Apr 21, 2014 in Inventory, Jim's Take on the Market, Sales and Price Check, Tips, Advice & Links | 7 comments

Research Your Realtor

biFrom 10 Things Before Opening Bell yesterday:

Below is a Q&A with Jim Klinge, the head of San Diego-based Klinge Realty and the creator of, a realty blog.


BUSINESS INSIDER: What is the most underreported story in housing?

JIM KLINGE: The health of the real estate market. We’re back to peak pricing – and higher – around coastal San Diego during the toughest mortgage underwriting in the history of the world.

BI: What is the biggest change you’ve seen since the bust in terms of the typical buyers’ profile?

JK: No change – almost all are owner-occupants.  Surprisingly, having direct access to recent sales via the internet hasn’t made buyers more critical about price.  Over the last 12 months, it’s been the opposite – people are paying prices that are 5% to 10% higher than recent sales.  Because they are so familiar with the values, you’d think they would be more discerning, but the fear of loss supersedes all – they just want to buy a house, and are tired of losing.

BI: What is the biggest mistake buyers are making these days?

JK: Not researching realtors.  They think we are all the same, so they just grab one.

BI: What is the biggest mistake sellers are making these days?

JK: Not researching realtors.  Many just grab the one who mails them the most propaganda.

BI: How much higher can the Sun Belt markets climb?

JK: The prime markets could easily rise another 10% to 20%, price-wise, in the next 2-3 years.  But it will be on very thin trading, which makes you question how legit it is, and whether it will sustain.


How/where do you research realtors?


  • Check the agent’s online presence - specifically, how do they present their other listings?  Are there vivid photos and actual video tours?
  • Search under ‘Find A Pro’ on Zillow, and check their number of sales, and client testimonials.
  • See if they are a Zillow Premier Agent – if they aren’t, then Zillow will advertise other agents on your house’s listing.
  • Does the agent use open houses to maximize the exposure?
  • If they have sold a few listings this year, then they have had multiple offers.  What are their specific bidding-war strategies to ensure top dollar?
  • Does your office expose and sell listings at the office meetings? (trick question here because most will answer yes, when ethically the answer should be no).
  • Who answers the phone? Excellent phone service is still preferred.

One question to ask: Can you tell me about your last bidding-war experience?


  • How many buyers have they represented in the last 12 months?  Getting buyers to the finish line in this hotly-competitive environment takes real skill, and the number of buyer sales demonstrates their ability.
  • Are there other agents involved – do you get passed around? If they answer yes, it isn’t a bad thing – you’d just like to know who the others are and what their skill set is.
  • Are they available 7 days a week? The market is cooking 24/7.
  • How do they position their buyers to win a bidding war?

One question to ask: “Based on my wants and needs, do you know of a couple of listings that would match?”  Not imperative, but if they can talk about actual homes for sale off the top of their head, you know you are dealing with somebody who is very active in your marketplace.

Posted by on Apr 3, 2014 in About the author, Jim's Take on the Market, Listing Agent Practices, Market Buzz, Tips, Advice & Links | 0 comments

Selling Early

In the previous video, Brandi mentioned that sellers enjoy a real urgency early in their listing period.  Today’s market is a good example – because every decent buy gets snapped up right away, all new listings get immediate attention.

The North SD County coastal region has been hot up to around $1,400,000 - homes priced above that have a much different supply-and-demand curve.

Here are the current active and pending listings of NSDCC detached homes:

Price Range
# of ACT
# of PEND
A/P Ratio
OVER $1.4M

On the lower end, literally half of the pendings found a buyer in the first 15 days on the market.

This dynamic can be used by both sellers and buyers.  Sellers who price sharply from the beginning can help create a fever pitch, and have a bidding war push the sales price higher.  Buyers who see homes on the market for more than 15 days know that something might be missing.

Posted by on Feb 19, 2014 in Actives/Pendings, Jim's Take on the Market, Thinking of Buying?, Thinking of Selling?, Tips, Advice & Links | 0 comments

Preparing Your Home For Sale

Are you getting ready to sell your home?

CarlsbadCurb appeal is what getts buyers out of the car, and it’s relatively easy and inexpensive to improve.  Let’s start with what you can do out front to improve your chances of selling for top dollar.

Curb Appeal Tips

  • Take a photo of your house and show it to other people for suggestions.  When you are driving around and see a great-looking front yard, you can whip it out your photo and visualize how your home would look.
  • Add medium-to-large pots with colorful plants near the front door.
  • Paint the front door and install new handle.
  • New light fixtures, especially outside the front door.
  • Fertilize your lawn 2-3 weeks prior to listing.
  • Repair or replace any brown spots in your lawn.
  • Trim the trees.
  • Power-wash the driveway and sidewalks.
  • Don’t over-water the lawns.

Once buyers are out of the car and up the steps, the excitement, and expectations, begin rising.  Buyers have usually seen so many average-looking houses that they’re hoping it will be different this time!  Capitalize on other sellers’ failure to prepare their home properly!

To sell for top dollar, the interior needs to impress a buyer, but you don’t have to spend crazy money.  Here is my list accumulatated over the years – do as many as you can!

  1. Rent a storage locker and remove everything not in use.
  2. Paint the main rooms with neutral color (light gray or crisp khaki).
  3. Install new high-grade neutral carpet – it smells ‘clean’.
  4. Paint wood surfaces with glossy paint (baseboards and doors).
  5. Clean all glass – windows inside and out, plus shower doors.
  6. Remove pets (get sitter for a couple of weeks) and all pet odors.
  7. Clutter patrol – remove distracting smaller items in particular.
  8. Replace burned-out light bulbs.
  9. If you have an older kiychen, at least install a new sink faucet.
  10. Add new towels and pillows, flowers, plus fruit in the kitchen.
  11. Tune up your mailbox.
  12. Improve storage capacity in garage.
  13. Make closets look large and inviting – mostly by removing stuff.
  14. Create computer stations.
  15. Plant trees to block neighboring homes.
  16. De-personalize.  Buyers can get nosy about sellers.
  17. Secure the office – don’t leave out any bills or real estate contracts.
  18. The master bath will make or break a deal – go all out.
  19. Hire the professional cleaners the week of hitting the open market.
  20. Hire a great realtor!

Most good realtors are willing to stop by and give free advice on what they think you need specifically.  Get good help!

Posted by on Jan 18, 2014 in Thinking of Selling?, Tips, Advice & Links, Why You Should List With Jim | 0 comments

Buyers’ Remorse…and Sellers Too!

buyers remorseBuyers’ remorse is a real event that gets ignored by those in the business.  Agents tend to focus on plowing through their checklists without recognizing the human elements that arise.

Sellers have remorse too.

With all parties focused on that ideal fantasy sale, there is a natural letdown once the deal is done - and more attention put on the reasons not to move.  Here is how wiki sees it:

My thoughts on buyers’ and sellers’ remorse:


  • Once there is a signed purchase agreement, sellers cannot rescind – there is no cooling-off period.  Be 100% certain about moving before you list your home for sale.
  • Have a sound strategy to conduct a successful bidding war.  Uncertainty breeds anxiety.
  • Be prepared for Round 2 – the buyer will likely want another piece of you once the home inspection is completed.
  • Complete repairs prior to selling to minimize stress in Round 2.  The buyers will make a much bigger deal about repair items, and could cancel over what seems to be minor issues.
  • Know where you are moving, who is moving you, and when/how much.  Uncertainty about your move creates undue anxiety about other issues.
  • Move out before the closing date, just in case you need more time.
  • Avoid the “evacuation move”.  If you do the panic-move, it could take weeks or months to re-organize your new home.
  • Expect to think that you sold too cheap, too early, too late, etc., and when you do, laugh that you read it here first.
  • Happy buyers close escrow.


  • There are no perfect houses – or sellers.
  • Having doubts is a good thing – it means you are examining the choice carefully.  Work through them one by one.
  • Regardless of market conditions, it will always be a challenge to find a quality house in good location – just due to the competition among buyers.
  • Have a teflon memory – don’t get remorseful about the ones you lose.
  • Don’t fall in love with anything.
  • Most houses need repairs/improvements – $25,000 to $50,000 worth.  Develop a comfort level with repairs and improvements.
  • Have a bidding-war strategy.
  • Plan the moving/improving in advance.
  • Happy sellers select their favorites.

Remorse affects people in different ways.  Many people can move on quickly, while others can really get bugged by it.  Having second thoughts is healthy, just keep them in proper perspective.

Get good help!

Posted by on Jan 17, 2014 in Jim's Take on the Market, Tips, Advice & Links, Why You Should Hire Jim as your Buyer's Agent, Why You Should List With Jim | 0 comments

Evaluating Realtors Using the Internet

Are you accustomed to using the internet for all your shopping needs?  Those who prefer to research and buy products and services on-line will find it natural to do the same for agents.

Here are four ways to use the internet when selecting a realtor:

1.  Google their name.  Any realtor worth considering should have a decent web presence, and hopefully some evidence of their past performance.  Check the dates of their latest blog posts or featured listings.

2.  Check their license number.  Every piece of advertising has the realtor’s license number on it, including websites and business cards.

There are some new agents who are really good, and there are older agents that should be put out to pasture, so it’s not a perfect guide.  But at least you can easily tell how long an agent has been in the business with a simple glance at their license number.

The real estate licenses are issued with sequential numbers.  I just use my company’s broker number as a guide.  If they have a lower number than Klinge Realty, they’ve been around for more than ten years, and if they are a new or newer agent, then I need to check how many sales they have closed on the MLS.  Here are the months that these licenses were issued:

License Number Month Issued
01900000 June, 2011
01800000 April, 2007
01700000 June, 2005
01400000 Nov, 2003
01388871 (Klinge Realty) June, 2003

3.  Check their profile on Zillow.  The industry’s leader now includes both reviews of agents, and how many sales they have closed in the last twelve months.

An agent who has something to offer should have double-digit reviews and sales (good agents should sell at least one home per month on average).  Any agent who has more than 75-100 sales has a big team of agents who are all reporting under the leader’s name, which is somewhat deceiving.

4.  Look for videos.  Every agent worth considering should be using video in some fashion – at least a video of themselves on Zillow or their website, and/or real video tours of their listings with commentary.


Yelp used to be a reliable source, but they have been under fire lately.  They have deleted positive reviews from my actual clients, and here a Carlsbad dentist gets on TV with his experience:

Yelp hides additional reviews – check at the bottom of each Yelp page where you see this link: other reviews that are not currently recommended

Get good help!

Posted by on Nov 20, 2013 in Listing Agent Practices, Tips, Advice & Links, Why You Should Hire Jim as your Buyer's Agent, Why You Should List With Jim | 2 comments

Get Your Home Sold

The political circus got kicked down the road a couple of months, and weather will be great for another week – it’s a perfect time to sell your house!

But you’ve already been on the market for a few months, and no luck.  You experienced a big rush in the beginning, but now it’s down to a trickle.  You think – if someone would just make an offer…..

What can sellers do to get their home sold in the next 30 days?

Start with putting yourself in the buyers’ shoes, and examine your online presence – is it compelling?  Are there quality photos and video?  Does the listing make you want to go see the house?

Then look at how your price compares with others for sale in the neighborhood. If there are two or more competing homes for sale, and nobody is selling, then a breakout is needed.  Lower your price to be the cheapest of the bunch, or the cheapest $/sf – and make the gap big enough that it is obvious to buyers that you are the best deal.

Nothing works as well as lowering your price.  But there are other things you can do to help the cause - complete as many of these items as possible:

Jim’s A La Carte List:

  1. Lower the price by at least 5%
  2. Add/improve photos.
  3. Produce a new video tour.
  4. Pay Buyer’s closing costs – specify the amount.
  5. Offer to Buydown  the mortgage rate (1% or 1.5% sounds good).
  6. Rent back your home after closing for a premium rate.
  7. Offer a quick or flexible close date.
  8. Vacate home to make it look better and increase showings.
  9. Re-examine the usefulness of range pricing (drop it).
  10. Install lockbox and make it obvious on listing.
  11. No restrictions on showings – show anytime.
  12. Paint and carpet – and spend some real money!
  13. Clean the carpet.
  14. Improve the curb appeal.
  15. Get neighbor’s dog to stop barking.
  16. Get rid of the smell.
  17. Include recent sales in your listing to prove your price.
  18. Mention the specific schools.
  19. Pay a Full Commission to Buyer’s Agent (3% or more)
  20. Pay a Bonus to the Agents.
  21. Hire a professional salesperson.

Whatever you can do to provide more ease and transparency will help.  Buyers are moving quickly, and your first impression needs to grab them!

Posted by on Oct 18, 2013 in Thinking of Selling?, Tips, Advice & Links, Why You Should List With Jim | 4 comments

Why Pendings Are Down

Realtor Conference Lawrence Yun 007Headlines everywhere are touting how rising rates are slowing down the real estate market.  The experts jump to conclusions, and the media loves bad news.  One of our favorites is front and center today – Lawrence Yun.  From

“The modest decline in sales is not yet concerning, and contract activity remains elevated, with the South and Midwest showing no measurable slowdown,” NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement. “However, higher mortgage interest rates and rising home prices are impacting monthly contract activity in the high-cost regions of the Northeast and the West.”

Mortgage rates are the same everywhere, and your location isn’t what determines whether sellers and buyers are coming together.

Experts postulate about who or what to blame, and not on how to fix it.

You can blame any reason on the list for fewer sales:

  • Rising rates (they have stalled)
  • Low inventory
  • Tight credit
  • Investors/Wall Street
  • Syria
  • Government
  • Builders
  • Realtors
  • Chargers
  • Padres
  • Jim the Realtor

If Lawrence Yun was actually a realtor and looked a little deeper – or the media would ask more questions - then eventually the reason that pendings are down anywhere would be discovered:

Sellers aren’t adjusting their price enough to satisfy the buyers.

Lawrence Yun and others are always quick to blame external events, but as our spokesman, he should offer the solution - price will fix everything!

Yunnie, can you give us a hand here!

Posted by on Aug 28, 2013 in Interest Rates/Loan Limits, Tips, Advice & Links | 13 comments