You can still buy a Village Park home in the $800,000s! This one feels like a detached-home too, and is surrounded by greenbelts. One-story, new flooring and paint, private backyard, 2-car garage, air-conditioning, laundry room, plus the primary bedroom suite has a fantastic travertine shower and huge walk-in closet! A house across the street is listed for $1,900,000 – this is the right neighborhood! Walk to the Park Dale Lane Elementary School and the Village Park Recreation Club too – enjoy all the benefits of the Village Park clubhouse, pool/spa, & tennis courts in this dog-walker’s paradise with flowing green belts throughout the area. Wow!
My new listing at 3534 Avenida Sierra, priced at $1,395,000, is one of six for sale in Lomas Serenas – four of which have listed in the last week. When you have a competition like this, you want to be the first one to sell and avoid a potential price war which could erupt in 30-60 days if the market doesn’t respond.
When evaluating how much to pay for a home today, I made the case with buyers that logically I’d like use the original list prices of comps . Those listing agents of recent sales nearby have probably used the over-bid prices of comparable sales, but at least those were from closings as far back as last summer. I also throw out any of the sales of homes sold off-market, because those resulting prices were never tested on the open market (and probably had some extra $$ added to incentivize the seller to not go on the open market).
How about with sellers?
What are the possible pricing strategies of a new listing in the post-frenzy aftermath?
Use the recent sales prices nearby, even the ones that were bid up 10% to 20%.
Take a little off the radically bid-up comps.
Use the original list prices.
Here is a simple comparison of how myself and another agent priced similar homes this week.
This is the most recent sale in the tract. It listed on April 4th for $1,300,000, and was bid up to $1,750,000:
I thought my new listing was very comparable, but we are past the hottest frenzy conditions and there were other comps that were lower. It didn’t seem realistic that we could get the full $1,750,000, so my recommended list price was $1,595,000. At least I could tell buyers that they were paying under the latest comp, and because my listing has the most-popular features – fully remodeled one-story on a low-maintenance half-acre lot, 3-car garage, private pool/spa, hardwoods, etc. – we would have mass appeal.
But then on Thursday, this house listed for $1,350,000 and it’s only seven doors up the street from my new listing – and listed by the same agents who sold Vista Rocosa for $1,750,000:
While my listing is in better condition, it is smaller and only has 3 bedrooms, instead of four. I couldn’t ignore the new listing and just go on the open market at $1,595,000, because all that would do is help sell the competing listing – and then that would end up being the latest comp anyway.
I had to have the tough conversation with my sellers.
They agreed to lower our price to $1,395,000, and compete head-to-head with the other active listing:
When we listed 365 Marine Street in La Jolla for $6,950,000, the price was very aggressive at $2,401/sf. A top agent called it ‘oceanfront pricing’. Here’s the strategy I employed to sell for top dollar at minimum risk!
Here is my home tour:
This was my tour of the super-custom features in the home:
The Beach-Barber Tract is probably my favorite neighborhood in La Jolla, and is an eclectic mix of new and old that are close to both the beach AND village. A block down from our sale is this teardown that just sold for $6,000,000. The seller also owned the house next door to it, and he was the one who bought Mitt’s home – and just moved across the street!
Realtors are saying that the market is slowing, and Marc D. suggested that we define what that means:
A slowing market is when fewer active listings are priced to sell.
It is a result of…..
Fewer buyers – Higher mortgage rates priced out some or most of the buyers hoping to finance their purchase. They are simultaneously hoping for prices to come down to compensate, and/or in the process of making other adjustments like considering smaller homes, widening their target zone, or offsetting higher rates with bigger down payments or an adjustable-rate mortgage. All of which take time, so more buyers than ever are in the wait-and-see mode, which means…..
Fewer sales – as more buyers move to the sidelines, it’s disrupting the incredible sales flow we’ve enjoyed over the last two years where virtually every home that came to market has found a buyer with relative ease. A new listing that previously had an 80% to 90% chance of selling in the first week now has a 10% to 20% chance of selling that quickly (example: there are 345 NSDCC active listings today, and there were 33 new pendings in the last 7 days), which means…..
Longer market times – with more unsold homes lying around, it gives buyers the impression that the ‘slowing market’ could mean lower prices are coming, which makes them more cautious. The longer a home is on the market, the more pressure is on the seller to do more improvements, or lower the price. Or they can also choose a third option and just wait in line and hope that they are moving slowly up into the group of 10% to 20% of active listings that have a chance of selling this week. This option is dependent upon the newest listings being more optimistic on price than those unsold currently, but because they have more recent data available on the perils of over-pricing, the newer listings should be sharper on price, not worse.
A slowing market means we have transitioned from the one-time-in-history event where every home sold quickly, to the old reliable sellers-waiting-in-the-queue, hoping for their lucky day to come.
With only 10% to 20% of the actives selling each week, it is inevitable that the unsolds will start stacking up as both sides wait longer for their lucky day. For some sellers, that day will never come, and they will cancel their listing instead.
Knowing that sellers will still insist on getting their price or close, how can buyers and sellers both know how close a home is to selling?
List-Price Accuracy Gauge
If you are getting showings and offers, the list price is within 5% of being right.
If you are getting showings but no offers, the list price is 5% to 10% wrong.
If you aren’t getting showings, the list price is at least 10% wrong.
The best thing a seller can do is to lower their price so they at least get out of the bottom tier – you need to have showings to have a shot at selling. The market is still hot (see map at the top), there just aren’t as many active listings that are worthy of the attention of buyers. The sellers are still in control of the marketplace, and it will be their reaction to wrong pricing that determines the outcome – as measured by the sales count.
Back in the day (3-5 years ago), there were 10:1 actives to pendings in the high-end markets like Rancho Santa Fe, an area where sellers have always been content to wait as long as it takes. I’ll never forget the RSF listing agent who proudly asserted that her one-year anniversary of her listing was coming up! Some people don’t mind being on the open market and not selling – they are only motivated to move if they get their price, which is fine. Hope you get lucky!
Sellers will be hanging around for weeks or months, hoping the mythical market conditions improve and that lucky couple with 2.2 kids shows up, rather than go to work on their pricing. As their lease comes due or the start of school gets closer, the waiting buyers will anxiously decide whether they will step up and make an offer, or keep waiting for the mythical two-in-the-bush that might be a better value.
This is the Big Standoff whose intensity will be measured by the number of sales that find the sweet spot of being within +/- 5% of the latest pricing trend. The vast majority of sellers won’t sell for less, and buyers will be very reluctant to pay more than 5% above comps.
While the pandemic and world war are raging, the stock market is diving into bear territory, and all media is burying the real estate market, I put two listings on the open market for four days and get three offers on each and sell them both for over list at a time when people are wondering how far will prices drop.
Who do you want in your corner? Contact Jim the Realtor today!
It is a true honor to have listed for sale my favorite home of all-time!
365 Marine St., La Jolla
3 br/3.5 ba, 2,894sf
LP = $6,950,000
This custom contemporary was designed and carefully-crafted for over three years to be the ultimate beach house just 100 yards from the sand! The main living area has floor-to-ceiling glass panels that open dramatically to create the perfect indoor-outdoor experience with breath-taking 180-degree ocean views over Marine Street beach! The interior is loaded with so many custom features that they make this home downright sexy! Ample off-street parking and an easy walk to the village too. Architect Mark Morris said in his 20+ years of designing super-custom modern-contemporary homes in the area, this is his favorite project of all-time. The ultimate in modern contemporary design – it’s a trophy property!
The big concern for long-time homeowners today is having to pay capital-gains tax on the net profit that’s ABOVE the exempted $500,000 for married couples. While the 2-out-of-5-year rule that was passed in 1997 is due for some adjusting, there haven’t been any indications that the politicians will re-visit the issue.
What can homeowners do to minimize the tax owed?
Document Your Expenses. All home improvements (not repairs) and closing costs are added to your home’s cost basis (purchase price), which help to minimize the taxable gain.
Carry the Financing. Have a big equity position and don’t need all the money? Take payments from the buyer over time, instead of receiving all the cash at closing. Require a big down payment so you would receive a nice chunk up front, and then collect on a 5% mortgage over the next 5-10 years. You only pay tax on the money received, so structure it so you drop down into the 15% tax bracket for the first year:
Rent it out for a year and do a 1031 Exchange. After renting your home out for a year, you could trade it for another rental property and postpone the capital-gains tax indefinitely. You have to rent out the new home too for at least a year before occupying as your residence, so it is a 2+ year project – but hey, no tax! If you don’t need to live there, another alternative is to buy a property in an ‘opportunity zone’. Investors begin to enjoy a step up in basis after 5 years. After 10 years, the gains become tax-free!
Offset with capital losses from elsewhere. Business and stock losses can be included in the same tax return to offset the capital gains.
Move every time your net gain rises up to $500,000. You may have to take a hit this time, but to avoid having to pay capital-gains tax again in the future, move more often. 🙂
Dying correctly. The burden of being the remaining spouse after a full life together can be devastating, but at least he/she will have the cost basis increased to the home’s value on the day of death – with no capital-gains tax owed. Make sure to have your family trust named as owner of the home.
Wait until your home’s value goes down. This isn’t likely to happen, so focus on 1-6 above!
Virtually every long-time homeowner has seen their equity rise enough in the last 12 months to cover their tax exposure, and didn’t that feel like free money? Instead of fretting over having to pay the government, just enjoy the ample amount left over – you made more than they did! Or utilize the tips above.