Publicizing The Listing Agent

The old rule was that any agent could advertise any MLS listing via the IDX, as long as the listing agent’s name and brokerage was displayed. But now you have to include their contact information too. He sounds confident because this is clearly a shot at Zillow but the unintended consequences from directing the consumer to the listing agent is promoting single agency which will eventually eliminate broker cooperation as we know it.

The discouragement of buyers getting their own representation from a buyer-agent is part of the dumbing-down of the business.  Sellers and listing agents prefer buyers who just pay whatever it takes and don’t ask questions, and when the History of the 2020-2021 Frenzy is written, it should include that it was fueled in part by crazy buyers getting no good help. 

In an emailed statement, a Zillow spokesperson said, “As part of our switch to IDX feeds and becoming CRMLS participants earlier this year, we agreed to comply with all CRMLS rules and regulations, which includes adhering to listing credit and display rules — such as the updates that went into effect this month.

“One of our core values is to empower consumers and increase transparency in real estate, which includes efforts to give shoppers the information they need to connect with listing agents. For more than a decade, our philosophy of ‘turning on the lights’ for consumers has meant that we’ve consistently displayed listing agents’ names and contact information, something not done on all IDX sites today.”

Get Good Help!

Successful Auctions

Nicolas Berggruen, a real estate investor who earned the moniker “homeless billionaire” through his jet-setting lifestyle and lack of a permanent address, just shelled out $63.1 million for the Hearst estate in Beverly Hills, winning the prized property in a bankruptcy auction that was more competitive than some expected.

The co-founder of the Berggruen Institute think tank beat out five other bidders at the Edward R. Roybal Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday in a heated auction that lasted around 45 minutes.

Twenty-four people — the bidders along with attorneys and agents — crowded into the courtroom, and a few others watched the action on a monitor in an overflow room, said Anthony Marguleas of Amalfi Estates, who held the listing on the estate.

The bidding began at $48 million — $1 million more than Berggruen’s original offer, which was accepted by the seller, attorney Leonard Ross, in August. The accepted offer triggered a Chapter 7 bankruptcy sale through auction, the proceeds of which will go toward paying off the roughly $50-million debt Ross has accumulated on the property after years of failing to sell the home.

With bids increasing in $100,000 increments, all but two bidders dropped out around the $52-million mark: Berggruen and MBRG Investors, a West Hollywood real estate investment company, records show.
Berrgruen’s winning bid of $63.1 million is the most ever paid for a home at an auction, beating out an Italian-inspired mansion in Beverly Park that sold for $51 million this year.

It’s a record-setting sale, but still far shy of the $195 million Ross originally wanted for the property . He set the ambitious price tag after the Playboy Mansion sold for $100 million in 2016, but years of relists and price cuts brought it down to $69.95 million earlier this year.

Like William Randolph Hearst’s other home — the famous castle in San Simeon — the Beverly Hills Hearst estate’s reputation precedes it.

In addition to being tied to the newspaper magnate, it was also said to be the honeymoon spot for President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy in the 1950s. Its myriad film credits include “The Godfather” and “The Bodyguard,” as well as Beyoncé’s 2020 visual album “Black Is King.”

Built in 1926, the salmon-colored showplace was designed by Gordon Kaufmann, the prolific architect behind the Hoover Dam, Greystone Mansion and the Hollywood Palladium. He designed it for banker Milton Getz.

The 29,000-square-foot Mediterranean mansion captures the spirit of Old Hollywood glitz and glamour with 22-foot-high hand-painted ceilings, a two-story paneled library, two screening rooms and an Art Deco nightclub with a bar salvaged from Hugh Hefner’s now-defunct nightclub Touch. In the billiards room is a stone fireplace moved down from Hearst Castle.

Elsewhere are nine bedrooms, 15 bathrooms and grand public spaces with room for 1,000 guests. The 3.5-acre compound also includes two guest apartments, a pool house, tennis pavilion and five-bedroom gatehouse set among terraces, lawns, waterfalls and an Olympic-size pool lighted by vintage lampposts.

“You can’t build a house this big in Beverly Hills anymore, and getting 3.5 acres is very rare,” listing agent Gary Gold of Hilton & Hyland told The Times in August.

Since the property surfaced for sale in April for $89.75 million, there were 71 inquiries, 41 private showings and 12 written offers. Marguleas and Gold held the listing with Zizi Pak and John Gould of Rodeo Realty.

Berggruen, who was born in France, founded his private investment company Berggruen Holdings in 1984 and also created the independent think tank Berggruen Institute in 2010.

No stranger to Southern California real estate, he bought 450 acres in the Santa Monica Mountains in 2015 with the goal of building a headquarters for the think tank. Forbes puts his net worth at $1.7 billion.
The institute annually awards a $1-million prize “for major achievements in advancing ideas that shape the world.”

The estate is the latest prized property to hit the auction block because of bankruptcy. The owners of the Mountain, a 157-acre parcel in Beverly Hills touted as the city’s finest piece of undeveloped land, racked up a $200-million debt on the property, which led to it being sold for $100,000 at a foreclosure auction in Pomona.

Two more high-profile bankruptcy sales are coming from Bel-Air.

Bids are being accepted through Sept. 27 for Mohamed Hadid’s infamous hillside home , which was ordered to be torn down by a judge who declared the 30,000-square-foot mansion a “danger to the public.” Proceeds of the sale will go toward the home’s destruction, and the winning bidder will get the raw land.

Just across the hill from Hadid’s place, Nile Niami faces a debt of more than $110 million on “The One,” a 100,000-square-foot mega- mansion that he’s been trying to sell for $500 million. A court-appointed receiver is preparing it for sale.

Pacaso Strikes A Nerve

They will get some flak in the tony areas but it’s a great way to make 12% commissions on expensive luxury properties ($2,000,000+ minimum) plus management fees. An excerpt:

Pacaso announced today that annualized revenue run rate has hit $330 million. In the second quarter of this year, Pacaso drew 1.8 million visits to its website and mobile app, up nearly 200 percent from the prior quarter. Its distributed team across 20 states has also grown from 30 people to more than 120 since January.

Pacaso declined to share specific metrics on the number of owners or houses sold, but said it has helped “hundreds” of people find second homes. It manages nearly $200 million in real estate assets. The company landed $1 billion in debt in March.

The startup is riding tailwinds from rising vacation home sales, driven in part by the pandemic and shift to remote work. Vacation home sales rose 16.4 percent year-over-year in 2020, and 57.2 percent during the first four months of this year compared to the same period in 2020, according to the National Association of Realtors.

And even if the real estate market cools down from record levels, Pacaso’s model becomes “more interesting in a softer market than a hot market, because it’s a more responsible way to own,” said Allison, who sold real estate document signing service dotloop to Zillow in 2015.

“In moments of correction, people don’t stop living, they just dial back the way they spend,” he said.

Owners must hold on to their share of a vacation home for at least a year, but can then sell it at any time — either for a profit, or a loss, depending on housing prices.

Pacaso is now live in 25 destinations around the U.S. It plans to expand internationally for the first time later this year in Spain, and has plans to launch in Mexico and the Caribbean next year.

Gaingels, Greycroft, Global Founders Capital, Crosscut, and 75 & Sunny Ventures also participated in the Series C round. Other backers include former CEO of Amazon Worldwide Consumer Jeff Wilke; Sukhinder Singh Cassidy and Theresia Gouw of the Acrew Diversify Capital Fund; First American Financial; Maveron; and Shea Ventures.

Read full article with Napa NIMBYs here:


Disruption From Mortgage Companies

Mike sent out a comparison of mortgage lenders and their quest to disrupt the real-estate-selling business. Here he shows how Rocket is the dominant mortgage lender in the country, and their press release describes their ambition – they think being the jack-of-all-trades will cause them to dominate the space, and now every real estate company will have to offer all services just to keep up. The winners will be determined by who advertises the most:

Their press release linked here:


An excerpt:

Rocket Homes, a technology-driven real estate service provider and part of Rocket Companies, today announced it is revolutionizing the way home buying and selling is done in America by seamlessly integrating the tools, professionals and innovations needed to win in a red-hot housing market. Rocket Homes will be the first real estate company ever to create a wide array of choices for those in the market, putting clients in the position to create their own truly bespoke experience, rather than the traditional one-size-fits-all approach that has been the standard for more than a century.

The company is bringing together a comprehensive suite of services that includes: credit reporting, home search, the industry-leading ForSaleByOwner.com process, on-staff real estate agents, a nationwide network of trusted real estate professionals, iBuying services to provide a back-up offer to sellers – along with direct connections to Rocket Mortgage, America’s largest mortgage lender, and Amrock, a premier closing and settlement services provider.

“There is nothing more exciting than getting the keys to a new home, but far too often the process of getting to that point is confusing and fragmented. At Rocket Homes, we are laser-focused on using technology and innovation to create a fully customized and transparent experience that is stress-free and fully integrated – working seamlessly with sister companies to simplify and speed-up the process, all while saving our clients money,” said Doug Seabolt, CEO of Rocket Homes. “Whether a client is looking to sell their house on their own, get assistance from an on-staff Rocket Homes agent or meet face-to-face with our trusted local real estate professionals, we will have unique options and resources to help every client move through the process in a way that is fully customized to them.”

Homeowners looking to sell their property will have the ability to select the right experience for their needs and goals thanks to Rocket Homes Seller Solutions.  Through the program, sellers can:

  • Leverage the industry-leading ForSaleByOwner.com platform that provides sellers all the tools they need to go through the process on their own. This option has become increasingly popular among homeowners in today’s competitive housing market.
  • Work with highly skilled, on-staff Rocket Homes Real Estate Agents that advise clients on the best list price, facilitate professional photos, list the house on the local multiple listing service, negotiate offers and handle all paperwork. Just like Rocket Mortgage effectively serves clients in all 50 states from centralized locations, Rocket Homes agents will assist with the most complex moments of the real estate transaction from downtown Detroit. With this option – which will be open to the public starting in the fourth quarter of 2021 – homeowners pay a significantly lower commission of only 1.5% for the selling agent, as opposed to the traditional fee of 3% — which represents a savings of $4,500 on a $300,000 home sale.
  • If a homeowner wants to work with an expert in their local area, they can tap into the Rocket Homes Verified Partner Agent Network of trusted and vetted professionals. This is a nationwide group of the best real estate agents who consistently receive top ratings from the clients they serve. The Partner Agent Network provides the option of a high-touch, in-person experience that some sellers desire. It consists of thousands of professionals working in every state, representing more than 3,000 counties across the country.

True to the company’s promise of providing certainty in complex moments, a soon-to-be-released iBuyer program, facilitated through third-party partner companies, will ensure every owner is given the opportunity to receive a guaranteed offer on their house. Consumers who need to sell their house before buying another often lose out on their new dream home due to the need to make a contingency offer – meaning their deal hinges on closing the sale on their existing property.  With the forthcoming program from Rocket Homes, these consumers will now have a guaranteed offer on their current house and can eliminate the need for contingency altogether.


Forbearance Expirations

Hat tip to GW and AK who sent me an article by Fortune, that references this article:


An excerpt:

With expiration of a broad federal foreclosure moratorium on July 31, hundreds of thousands of U.S. homeowners are expected to exit forbearance in coming months. A significant share of these homeowners will likely end up listing their home for sale, contributing meaningfully to overall inventory levels and allowing homeowners in forbearance to benefit from home price appreciation and use the equity gained for a future down payment, according to a Zillow analysis.

Unlike 2008, when financial conditions and a souring housing market pushed many homeowners into involuntary foreclosure, strong equity growth and a robust sellers market are likely to ensure that even distressed homeowners have more options and the housing market is likely to be insulated from widespread disruption.

The largest wave of forbearance exits is expected in September and October of 2021, and Zillow projects that forbearance exits will lead to an additional 0.40 months of housing supply in August – October of 2021, a 15% increase relative to 2.6 months of supply in June. For context, this additional 0.40 months of supply roughly means an extra 211,700 homes for sale, which would represent 13.1% of all predicted sales over the next three months.

I hope those in forbearance do list their home for sale – call me today!

The NSDCC market is starved for inventory – look at the differences:

September 14, 2020:

654 active listings

481 pending listings

September 13, 2021:

316 active listings

304 pending listings

Last year we had more than twice the number of active listings as we have today! We can handle more!

But the foreclosure laws in California were significantly modified and nobody is going to get foreclosed – so don’t wait around for that to happen. The most likely scenario is for the lenders to continue the free-rent program for another year or two, and only lightly suggest a potential sale to those not paying their mortgage – which will only sprinkle an occasional new listing upon us.

Inventory Watch

There were 48 new listings between La Jolla and Carlsbad this week, and 48 new pendings!

The pendings are evenly divided too:

NSDCC Pending Listings:

0 – $1,000,000: 7

$1.0M – $1.5M: 78

$1.5M – $2.0M: 77

$2.0M – $3.0M: 78

Over-$3,000,000: 77



Inventory Shortage

The NSDCC Monthly Sales were hopped up in April and June of this year, but are now getting back in line with previous years. Is the demand ‘cooling off’, or is it because we don’t have enough homes for sale?

NSDCC Listings & Sales

June Listings
July Listings
August Listings
3 mo. total
August Sales
Median SP

If the number of listings between June-August is usually around 1,350, we are 22% below that this year.

Yet the number of August sales is about normal. But the 37% YoY increase in the median sales price suggests that the demand is not only strong but that we’d have more sales if there were just more listings!

Spouse Test For 2-Out-Of-5-Year Tax Exemption

How do you get the $500,000 tax exemption on the net profit from the sale of your home?

If you and your spouse file tax returns jointly, and if both meet the “use test.”  That means you both lived in the house as your primary residence for at least two of the five years leading up to the date of sale (and at least one of you are on title).  Here is the IRS rule:

 You can exclude being taxed on $500,000 of the capital-gains from the sale of your primary residence if all of the following are true:

1. You are married and file a joint return for the year.

2. Either you or your spouse meets the ownership test.

3. Both you and your spouse meet the use test during the 2-year period ending on the date of the sale.

4. During the 2-year period ending on the date of sale, neither you nor your spouse excluded gain from the sale of another home.


Should a spouse pass away, the surviving spouse has two years from the date of death to sell the home and receive the full $500,000 exemption from capital-gains tax – as long as they haven’t remarried.

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