This was emailed in yesterday:

Hi Jim,

I have been looking for my first house with the help from a traditional real estate broker and a Redfin agent for a few months. However, I haven’t found my dream house yet. Am I too picky or maybe I look at the wrong neighborhood? I know that you have seen many houses in San Diego. You are a very professional realtor. Could you please review my wish list and give me some recommendations? Thanks.

Here is my wish list: 

1. 20 minutes or less in driving between home and Morehouse Drive in rush hour
2. Yard facing south, east south, or west south.
3. View or privacy.
4. No power line
5. 4 bed rooms

House price should be less than $900K. Down payment is $400K.

Thanks. Have a nice weekend!


This is a common occurance, so let’s explore the options:

1. Keep doing the same thing, hoping that something falls in your lap.

2. Wait until we run out of buyers.

3. Compromise.

Those first two only work if you get real lucky…lotto-winner lucky.

So let’s concentrate on #3, Compromise.

Twenty minutes from Sorrento Valley does not cover much ground, so your options are already limited just by geography.  La Jolla is ridiculous, University City is, um, how should we say it…’mature’, nobody wants to live in Mira Mesa, and Scripps Ranch and Rancho Penasquitos are further than 20 minutes in traffic.

Bay Park/Clairemont are close, and so is Solana Beach….and if you push it to 30-40 minutes you can get to Encinitas.

Sorrento Valley has a few homes, but the inventory is always thin. 

So you’ll be stuck with Carmel Valley, 92130 – the toughest market in San Diego!

To test your picky-ness, let’s look at a new CV listing:

This house meets all of your criteria, except you can see the power lines in the distance.  I think they are buried behind the house too, but hopefully underground power lines are acceptable – virtually every street has electricity now.

Now let’s test your reactions.

A.  Have you seen this on-line? 

It listed two days ago, so you’ve probably seen it on the internet.  If not, you aren’t looking enough – most buyers are checking multiple times per day.

B.  Have you seen it in person yet? 

Motivated buyers react quickly – you know there are people over there within the first couple of hours of every new listing.

C.  When you saw it, was your first instinct to find something wrong with it?

If so, you are going to have a lot of trouble buying a house.   If you are looking for things you might be able to live with, then you have a chance.  There are no perfect houses, and sadly, almost all of them need plenty of work.  Find ways to fix the imperfections, rather than discarding the listing.

D.  How is your realtor reacting?  Did they know about it when you called them?  Did they have opinions on the comps, neighborhood, seller motivations, and/or listing agent?

The listing agent is one of the best around when it comes to price.  He has had 64 listings in Carmel Valley over the last two years, and those averaged 25 days on market.  When I saw it come up, I knew the price had to be sharp, and if I wanted to sell it, then I better hurry.

E.  Are you willing to add a little mustard to the price you’re willing to pay? 

Almost every buyer will say, “I’d buy that, if I could get 10% off, or more.”  But in hot markets like Carmel Valley-under-$1M, you’re not seeing big discounts.  Of the 90 detached closings this year in 92130, the average sales price is 96% of the list price.  Fifty-four of those are under $1,000,000, and they have sold for an average of 97% of list price.


I think addressing the home-buying struggles in NSDCC can be summarized in one sentence:

Are you devoting a lot of time to the hunt, are you looking for ways to compromise, and are you employing quality help? 

All are vitally important – because your competition is doing all three!

To answer your question, yes, I’m guessing that you are very picky, but all buyers are.  Those who end up buying are the ones that can blend their picky-ness with reasonable compromises to find the right house, at the right price. 

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