Tired of all the taxation? Move to Monaco!

Monaco is home to nearly half of all Formula 1 drivers:

• Lewis Hamilton
• Max Verstappen
• Charles Leclerc
• Lando Norris
• George Russell
• Valtteri Bottas
• Sergio Perez
• Nico Hulkenberg
• Alex Albon

This is primarily because of three reasons.

Taxes: Monaco has no income tax, no wealth tax, no local tax, no property tax, and no capital gains tax.

Privacy: There are 12,000 millionaires living in Monaco — 1/3 of the entire population — so F1 drivers don’t have to deal with crazy fans. And with the government requiring written permission for all professional photography, there are also fewer paparazzi.

Location: The Nice airport is only 15 miles from Monaco, which is especially important because F1 drivers will travel over 75,000 miles this year alone.

And it doesn’t hurt that Monaco’s weather is incredible, and the views are equally spectacular.

NSDCC Listings, YTD

NSDCC Listings, Jan 1 – May 15

Can we use statistics to describe the market conditions today?

This chart above helps a little. Even though the number of listings is drastically lower than it used to be, apparently the market has been adjusting – mostly by price!

I mentioned that it seemed like everything is priced $200,000 more than it was last year, and the median list price reflects a similar number. Buyers aren’t taking the full plunge though, and the 85% SP:LP is a sign of normalizing (buyers having more negotiating power).

The frenzy that caused virtually everything to sell is long gone, and we’ll probably be back to having 30% to 40% of the listings not selling. This chart doesn’t show the number of refreshed listings where agents cancel and then re-input right away to “refresh” it – but be on the lookout. We will be seeing more of those this year.

Statistically, the market conditions look fairly healthy. Though different than the recent past!

Zillow Lowers Forecasts

Zillow has every reason to be the nation’s real estate cheerleader since they derive the bulk of their income from realtors. They had been predicting 3% to 6% appreciation locally this year….at least up until two weeks ago.

Something has changed:

Carlsbad NW – 92008

Carlsbad NE – 92010

Carmel Valley – 92130

Encinitas – 92024

Carmel Valley out in front with a +2% over the next year? Yikes!

It means they think that everywhere else will be flat, at best.

I’ll post the other areas when received.

DOJ Speaks Up

The elimination of buyer-agents continues:

The U.S. Department of Justice broke its silence in court on Tuesday on the impending changes coming for the real estate industry in the wake of settlement agreements by major brokerages and the National Association of Realtors in what experts say was a statement Realtors should heed.

During a status hearing for a case in Massachusetts, Jessica Leal, an attorney for the DOJ, said the regulator would neither support nor oppose the NAR settlement agreement, which will lead to sweeping rule changes this summer. “We believe offers of compensation should not be made anywhere, but certainly not on the MLS,” Leal said.

Without any advertised commitment to pay them a commission, what will buyer-agents have to endure? At best, the seller-paid commission will be a moving target, and many, and probably most times it will end up being peanuts. Any agent who expects to be a successful buyer-agent will have to become experts at having their buyers pay them.

But even if an agent can get buyers to sign a commission agreement, the process of buying a home around here is very difficult.  I have an entry-level buyer right now who is making full price, all-cash offers, and over the last 45 days has struck out six times in a row.

Buyer-agents are being squeezed out by several market forces, and who will mind? The lack of transparency and the games the listing agents play are so unsavory that buyers and their agents will have to be extremely motivated to succeed just to eventually buy something. Agents won’t want to represent buyers under these circumstances, and just quit instead.

The real issue now is that buyers HAVE to hire a buyer-agent in writing to buy a house. Once they figure that out, will they investigate the choices carefully, or just grab someone? Or have Aunt Bea handle it? Or just go to the listing agents? Once the frustration sets in, going to the listing agent will seem like a way to improve their chances.

But the old-school listing agents will cop an attitude and either not want to do dual agency at all, or they will want the buyers to be unrepresented. Progressive listing agents will encourage buyers to come to them directly, and it is inevitable that it will become the prevailing trend. It’s how the commercial brokers do it, and it’s mostly because agents don’t like other agents – not because it is what’s best for the buyers and sellers.

These agents discuss some of the pitfalls here. They have built a realtor team of 51 agents since covid, and have sold 448 homes in Connecticut over the last 12 months – so they are in the game. But they don’t come up with any perfect solutions – because there are none:

In other words, it’s going to be a mess of a market as agents turn their focus on getting buyers to sign an exclusive agreement. It will just complicate further what is already a very challenging environment.

All-Cash Market

How does our market keep trucking along with sky-high prices AND mortgage rates 2x higher than they were three years ago? How does pricing levitate when money is so much more expensive – shouldn’t prices adjust downward?

We know that the generational wealth transfer of $70 to $80 trillion dollars is underway, and this is where some of it is showing up – purchases of quality real estate.

There have been 115 closings between La Jolla and Carlsbad this month, and 47% of them were all-cash. It’s the highest percentage we’ve seen so far, and it’s likely to continue.

Those who aren’t paying all-cash have big down payments to help cushion the higher rates. Payment too high? Put more down!

For the downsizers, it’s the best way to justify giving up the 3% mortgage too – sell the long-time family estate and buy the next one all-cash.

Last month’s 200 sales will probably be the highest monthly count we’ll see in 2024, so the market will have to endure less volume, and more listings sitting around unsold.

It means that the percentage of all-cash buys will probably be increasing. I think it could get up to 66% by the end of the year!

Seller Disclosures

There used to be a belief that any defects that had been fixed, or things that happened to previous owners weren’t required disclosure items for today’s home sellers. But it’s gotten very specific now – and beginning July 1st, AB-968 takes effect.  If the home is being sold within 18 months of purchase, all the contractors and their contact information need to be disclosed too on any repair over $500:

Did You Know ~ All About Historical Disclosures:

  • Past defects, even if repaired by the seller or others, are to be disclosed. Not only that; the seller should provide all relevant information regarding the repairs to any prospective buyer. They must also disclose any improvements or modifications made to property with or without the benefit of permit.

  • The disclosure would include, but not be limited to,  the person(s) who performed the repairs (i) the property owner (ii) a licensed contractor  or (iii) an unlicensed tradesperson.  The documentation would also include all related documentation for all repairs   /improvements/modifications to the property.

  • The authority here  may be found in the  Seller Property Questionnaire (“SPQ”),  Question Number 5. This paragraph specifically prompts the seller to provide whatever material documents they have in their possession.  Questions 7A/8A of the SPQ  also address the importance of full disclosure. The Disclosure Information Advisory (“DIA”) is an excellent tutorial for sellers and should be reviewed with the homeowner before the disclosures are completed.

  • Let’s think about it; if a seller and/or their agent fail to disclose past defects and/or repairs, the buyer will not have the information they need to make an informed decision. For example,  if a past roof leak, flooding, or other water intrusion issues/repairs are not disclosed the buyer may not choose to inspect for other damage that could have occurred as a result, such as environmental hazards or wood / drywall damage that may not be visible. The informed buyer may wish to verify that the repairs were done correctly by a licensed professional, and/or ask for more details on the repairs themselves or the tradespersons or contractor that performed the repairs. It doesn’t matter how long ago the information was obtained; if you’ve got it produce it and by all means document delivery with a Receipt for Reports or similar documents.

  • The fact that a neighborhood or property specific defect exists, even if “well known” by the local residents and real estate community, disclosure is still required.  The buyer may be from out of the area or simply unaware of the issue.

  • Full and accurate disclosure is always the best practice and remember Gladys Kravitz is lurking and just ready to pounce on the buyer and share all that she knows.  You can count on Gladys to be the town crier.

  • When it comes to improvements and modifications to the property the same logic applies. Some homeowners take great care to ensure that all modifications and improvements and even repairs are made with the benefit of permit, comply with code, and are performed by licensed contractors, many others do not.

  • The key is disclosure! The buyer needs to know what they will be dealing with once they become the property owners. In order to make an informed decision, the buyer needs to have sufficient information to do so.

  • Neither agents nor sellers should “cherry pick” or “decide”  what documents are relevant, no matter how well intended. All disclosures, investigatory reports, and inspections, estimates, invoices and receipts, environmental analysis, invoices, estimates, surveys or maintenance records that are in the possession of the listing agent and/or seller are to be provided to the buyer in their totality.  Regardless of when they were obtained and whether the disclosure packet is delivered prior to an offer being written or after the sale is ratified.

  • Last note on this subject for now; disclosures should be thorough and accurate and ought never be minimized or glossed over. Explanations should be clearly stated for the buyer’s review.

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