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Category Archive: ‘Why You Should List With Jim’

Seller’s Market to Continue?


The San Diego Non-Seasonally-Adjusted Case-Shiller Index bottomed in April, 2009 (which just happened to be the same month this blog got favorable exposure on the front page of the L.A.Times, and on ABCNews Nightline).

The local index has increased 58% since!

It has been a steady-strong sellers’ market for 7+ years, and logically it would seem we are (over)due for a pause.  However, if you want another reason why the sellers’ market will continue, consider that for many agents, these market conditions are all they have ever known.

The State of California issues real estate license numbers sequentially.  License #01860000 was issued in March, 2009, so we know that any SD agent with a license number higher than that has never known a soft market, professionally.  The state issued its 2,000,000th license this year.

The seller’s market probably will continue for those who own superior properties in good locations – because so few of them are coming to market, the buyers will have to pay what it takes.

But there are more and more regular offerings just sitting.  When you talk to the listing agents, they proudly point out how they are ‘under comps’ and ‘seller is motivated’.  I even saw one where the buyer had to pay both sides of the commission – pay 5% over list, and the bidding war hasn’t started yet!

Can these agents (and sellers) adjust to market conditions?

After being schooled up in one of the strongest bull markets that real estate had ever known, and knowing no other, it is doubtful the newer agents (200,000+ in the state) will do anything more than ‘wait it out’.

The seller’s market could continue just because for many, it is all they know.


Posted by on Oct 21, 2016 in Jim's Take on the Market, Listing Agent Practices, Why You Should List With Jim | 0 comments

Higher Prices = Harder to Sell


As home prices increase, buyers get more picky – and it makes sense.

If they have to pay more, then they want more for their money.

This should have some lasting effects on the market:

  1.  The sellers who upgrade their home to sell will be rewarded.
  2.  The gap between the turn-key homes vs. fixers should widen.
  3.  The home-selling failure rate will increase.

The stats show that we’ve had more listings this year, but fewer sales:

NSDCC Detached Homes between Jan-Sept.

Total Sales
Total Listings
Sales/Listings Ratio

Yes, the ‘re-freshing’ of listings does pad the Total Listings count, but it’s been a constant problem and helps to make the point – it’s getting harder to sell.

For sellers who don’t want to lower their price, there is an easy answer.

Do more to upgrade your home!

This is why financed buyers should consider a fixer – there is less competition, especially from cash buyers who have a better shot at the hot buys.

Posted by on Oct 18, 2016 in Jim's Take on the Market, Thinking of Selling?, Tips, Advice & Links, Why You Should List With Jim | 1 comment

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

Granite-Slab Yards


Granite-slab yards we considered – all around Miramar Rd. All are good:

Amazon Stones



Arizona Tile


We were looking for max efficiency, and after I previewed all five, we hit four yards in two trips – which for the homeowners turned into a brief 2.5-hour investment on how to spend smart money to sell your house for top dollar.

Keep going until you find something you like!

Posted by on Oct 7, 2016 in Jim's Take on the Market, Listing Agent Practices, Remodel Projects, Staging, Why You Should List With Jim | 3 comments

Leased Solar Panels

Solar power is a great idea, but do you buy or lease the system?

If you purchase your solar panels, then when you go to sell the house, it should provide some extra value to the buyer.  Exactly how much is tough to estimate, but it wouldn’t be more than 50 cents on the dollar – it is a feel-good feature.

If you lease your system, there are pitfalls when selling:

  1.  The buyers have to assume the lease.  I don’t think the actual assuming of the lease is that big of a deal.  Buyers already have their financials handy to get their loan, and mortgage underwriters are tougher than solar-lease underwriters.  It is the additional hassle that can irk a buyer.
  2.  The seller and listing agent have to initiate the lease-assumption process.  The solar-lease company won’t talk to the buyers until the lease application has been submitted, which means the seller and listing agent need to request it. The leasing company has 10 days to respond, but the listing agent expects the buyer to release all contingencies within 17 days – which is only going to happen if the listing agent knows to request the lease application promptly.
  3.  There is a buyout.  This is where the fun begins.  On one hand, the buyer gets the benefit so the seller expects you to take the full package as-is. But the lease goes for 20 years, and the lease payments total around $34,000. Plus, there is a buyout on top of that?  Buyers don’t expect that additional buyout cost, and would like some negotiation.

Here is a typical buyout schedule:


4. The solar-lease company records a UCC-filing against the property, which prevents the seller from selling or refinancing without permission from the solar-lease company.

Do sellers fully understand what they are signing when they lease solar panels?  Probably not, and if they try to sell their house over the next 20 years, they will get a not-so-friendly reminder.

Below is a link to a general discussion about solar panels:

Solar Panels: Are They Worth the Cost?

Posted by on Oct 7, 2016 in Jim's Take on the Market, Listing Agent Practices, Thinking of Selling?, Tips, Advice & Links, Why You Should List With Jim | 1 comment

Real Estate ADD


The iPhone 7 is out!  Smart phones and other mobile devices now dominate the landscape, and are practically part of the family.  Thankfully, they don’t need their own bedroom and bath!

Most people scroll so quickly that they only take split-seconds to decide which homes to consider.  Having limited inventory might be a good thing!

The first impression of the home needs to be incredible just to capture their attention for a few seconds.

Home Selling in the Mobile-Device Era

  1.  Staging – The photos are already small enough on these phones – they become much more appealing with the right decor.  Once the buyers arrive for their minutes-long tour, it’s easier for them to visualize too.
  2.  Pro Photos Only – Buyers are frustrated enough, and they won’t tolerate poor-quality photos. It’s too easy for them to keep swiping.
  3.  Colors need to be current.  In the minds of fast-moving buyers, out-of-style colors = fixer.
  4.  Powerful Remarks – Listings with the usual mumbo-jumbo in the remarks won’t get read.
  5.  Responding to Inquires – Zillow recommends that agents respond to inquiries within five minutes – otherwise, consumers will forget the property!
  6.  Comps – Buyers are moving (too) fast, and there aren’t as many sales so it’s tougher to track the values easily.  Give them a hand – list the comps in the remarks!
  7.  Sell with Less – Don’t include 25 photos of beddings and local attractions.
  8.  Old Listings are Toast – Buyers ignore old listings – they want new meat.

This is the era of sensory overload.  There are so many advertising images coming at us every second that our go-to is to ignore first.  But those clear, clean, sleek, easy-to-read listings with great photos and an attractive price still have a good chance of selling!


Posted by on Sep 17, 2016 in Jim's Take on the Market, Listing Agent Practices, Tips, Advice & Links, Why You Should List With Jim | 0 comments

DOM Matters


Our local market has been healthy/strong since 2009, with virtually every property in North San Diego’s Coastal region having risen 30% to 50% in value.

But the slowdown is here, which probably means prices are going to flatten out.

Sellers and agents who priced too high over the last few years just had to wait “until some nice family came along”.  But the reality was prices were rising fast enough that they eventually caught up.

But what happens in flatsville?  Prices take much longer to catch up – if they ever do.  With mortgage rates at record low levels – can market conditions be any better than what we’ve seen lately?  Probably not.

The days-on-market is going to matter now.

Buyers have been willing to ignore the longer DOMs because they knew prices were rising fast – and they were frustrated.  But in a slower market, buyers gain confidence and don’t mind waiting to see how it all shakes out.

Bottom line?

You want to sell in the first 30 days on the market.

The pricing history of each house, and the amount of time it’s been on the market is public knowledge.  Once you roll into flatsville, the homes languishing on the market for months will get ignored.  Buyers are more skeptical, and the longer a house is on the market, the less they want to pay!

Other things will matter too. Curb appeal and interior improvements, ease of showing, reputable listing agent, and attractive price will all be scrutinized closely by prospective purchasers who are looking for any reason NOT to buy.  Staying on the fence will become the new sport.

Is it a big deal?  Not to those who don’t need to sell. Buyers will still come around, and you might get lucky.

But rising prices have been provided the ‘luck’ because they caused buyers to ignore market signals – they just wanted to buy something before it got worse.

The shift in the market is subtle, and many won’t notice.

But the educated buyers are paying attention, and now hesitating over the little stuff.  The number of days on the market will be their primary data point, so do everything possible to ensure a prompt sale!

Get Good Help!

Posted by on Sep 16, 2016 in Jim's Take on the Market, Market Conditions, Why You Should List With Jim | 1 comment