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