Some might be thinking, “Yeah Jim, you’re such a big talker, what do you got?”

I had three buyer sales in the same time period. Here’s how they turned out:

My first job is to gather information to help determine my chances of making a deal. It starts with the listing agent – what can I expect from them? What is their level of expertise? In this case, it was her first listing in three years and the subject property was her grandparents’ house – and her mom was the trustee.

Oh boy.

Because I have experience in the neighborhood, I knew there were more than one neighbor nearby with deep pockets. The south end of Los Robles is the best block in Terramar after the oceanfront properties because it’s not heavily traveled, and if you can see past the neighbor behind, you have a straight shot to the ocean over the state beach which is only 200 feet away. Sales in this stretch are rare, but I’ve had three of them and I knew it was going to be hot. The last sale on this block was in 2019, which was light years ago.

In addition, my listing on El Arbol, priced at $2,499,000, was marked ‘in escrow’ in the MLS when this new listing hit the market. Even though it is only one block east, El Arbol is considered an inferior location because it’s down the hill so there isn’t any ocean-view potential and the railroad tracks are closer. The remodeling efforts on the street are far less than on Los Robles.

So when the new listing went live, their $2,150,000 list price looked very attractive.

The listing agent conducted an open house on the first weekend, which allowed my buyers to build some rapport with her too – which usually helps the cause, especially with the agents who want to feel good. We all knew this was a huge deal money-wise, but more importantly, it was going to be very personal too.

My common advice – wait as long as possible to make an offer. We waited until Monday to make a full-price offer, because the agent told me there was the usual clamoring from other agents, buyers, and neighbors early on, and we figured that nothing was going to happen over the weekend.

My listing was going to close a week later for $2,440,000, so I wanted to get this one into escrow!

The listing agent kicked around our full-price offer for two days and kept telling me that there were other offers, and threats of more pouring in. But I gently convinced her that we would be the best candidates, and guided her to make the right decision. As what usually happens, the agent got so caught up in hammering us on minor details that they forget the big picture.

They countered our offer only for three weeks of free rent and removed the requested termite clearance. Boldly, we counter for a shorter rentback period but I had already had verbal agreement from the listing agent that it would be acceptable.

Back in the day, I used to be more pushy, but it’s such a seller’s market and agents get offended so easily that the softer make-a-friend approach has been more effective – which I learned from Donna! She then took over and did a great job in gathering evidence and convinced them to give us a credit for $14,500 in lieu of repairs even though the agent said she had a back-up offer from a neighbor.

We could have panicked and thrown more money at them early on, but it wouldn’t have done any good because they weren’t ready to deal yet. The timing is crucial, and you have to know when to make the deal – and my constant good-natured rapport building made a difference along the way.

We closed on time for full price.

Since then, my listing on El Arbol did close successfully for $2,440,000, I listed the vacant lot on Carlsbad Blvd. for $1,999,000 and it went pending in 11 days, and then this new listing of a smaller and much more inferior property (I’ve seen it before) on El Arbol popped up yesterday, priced at $2,249,999.

I think my buyers did pretty good!


The next sale was the ultimate example of taking advantage of the camaraderie between agents.

The only thing harder to sell than a realtor’s own home is the long-time residence of an appraiser – because they really know what’s it’s worth, dang it!  In this case, the homeowner had been an appraiser for 40 years. Could anyone convince him that his price isn’t right?

They listed this 80s-built single level for $1,097,000, and while the kitchen and baths had been redone, it was a while back and they probably need it again. It is on a half-acre lot with fruit trees, it had vinyl windows and a smattering of other minor improvements. But the roof was shot, and we knew it would be a project to get it up to my buyers’ satisfaction.

We offered $1,000,000.

We really wanted to offer less than that, but we agreed that anything with a 9-handle would surely offend the appraiser-owner. Let’s offer an even $1 million and hope to stick to it as close as possible.

I had sold a previous listing with this agent a couple of years ago, and she remembered us fondly. We discussed her family, her recent sales, her thoughts on this house, etc. Basically, I let her air it out for 15-20 minutes and what woman doesn’t like that?

We both agreed that the house needed work, and any other buyers would make her life miserable. We made our offer on December 11th, and I promised to close by the end of the month (house was vacant).

She told the sellers to sign my offer, and they did.

Then Donna went to work and got another $30,000 out of them for repairs and credits.  We closed for $1,000,000 on the last day of the year, though it is still marked pending here.

Listing agents want to have smooth sailing during the escrow period, and that’s taken into account when they anoint the winner accept an offer. Because we had such a good experience previously, the listing agent want to do business with us again – and she gave us a good deal too.


My buyers of this newer house in University City had been looking for years. They didn’t have any kids when I first met them, and now they have two!

Though it was listed with a Compass agent, I knew not to expect ANY love just because I’m a Compass agent too (I think they should be some Compass love, but that’s another story). Of course, he was happy to tell me about all the clamoring there too, and that he had four offers.

I ask listing agents, “What will it take to buy this house today?” and it’s amazing what you will hear. Usually it’s a bunch of stuttering vague stuff, but in this case, he told me a very specific fact that made me think that I had a leg up on the competition – and it had nothing to do with Compass.

It was listed for $2,050,000, and we offered $2,000,000 financed….and they took it without countering.

Then Donna got an additional $19,000 in repairs and credits. It is closing today.

P.S. The value was tough to comp because the UC houses are typically so much older and goofy inside. This house was completely torn down and rebuilt in 2005, and compared to what 3,426sf will cost you in Carmel Valley, we thought it was a heck of a deal for a newer home at our sold price of $2,000,000, or $584/sf – even compared to the UC homes:


I’m the first one to tell you how hard it is being a buyer’s agent today – and I cover it regularly here. But I’m still going to fight like heck for my buyers, and get them the best deal possible.

Plus, I come from the school that is is better to NOT buy, then to overpay.  I think that thought has drifted away and now it’s fine if buyers want to pay too much because it’s only money.

But we’re going to get you the best deal we can!

Pin It on Pinterest