Santa’s House

Santa’s House is featured with Listing Showcase, the elevated listing experience available only on Zillow. Showcase listings are powered by artificial intelligence and feature immersive media and an entirely new design to help give you richer insights into the home’s layout and features. Sellers interested in showcasing their home can ask their agent about Listing Showcase.

Check it out here:

Single Agency Coming Soon

The gradual phasing out of buyer-agents is underway, and it shouldn’t be long now.

Zillow’s new format features the listing agent’s phone number under the main photo!

The three-headed agent display was removed and now when a reader clicks on the right side for Request a tour or Contact agent, they are linked to the Zillow call center instead. There they get processed/qualified on the phone by Zillow employees, sent to Zillow Mortgage, and then get assigned to an agent who is paying big money to Zillow for the privledge.

Buyers will figure it out pretty quick. By clicking on the right side, you get a 3rd party agent who isn’t the listing agent and has never been to the home. With the listing agent’s phone number now prominently displayed, it is inevitable that buyers will call the listing agent next time.

If they need a prompt, they will get one when they start clicking on the photos – which every viewer does immediately. This is what they will see now:

Yep – the listing agent is in the upper-left corner of every photo!

With the threat of buyers having to pay a buyer-agent a hefty commission out of pocket, it will be irresistible for them to contact the listing agent to see what they have to offer – in hopes of avoiding a separate payment due to a buyer-agent. The listing agents will be happy to oblige because they will already have their full fee packed into the listing side.

By the time the realtor lawsuits get resolved, it will be too late – there won’t be any need for a buyer-agent.

Zillow is offering a full marketing package to listing agents too.

Package Includes:

    • Listing Placement Boost on Zillow
    • HD Photography
    • Aerial Photography
    • Social Media Reel
    • 3D Tour
    • “NEW” AI Generated Interactive Floor Plan
    • Listing Website
    • Enhanced Listing Agent Branding
    • Capture New Leads From Your Zillow Profile

The Listing Placement Boost on Zillow?

Listing agents who purchase a marketing package will have their new listings displayed first in the home’s area for seven days – a very nice feature for agents looking to capture buyers for their listings.

While the rest of the industry was grumbling about lawsuits over the last few months, Zillow created a new format that will solve everything. But nobody knows what fee the listing agent charges because it is never disclosed to anyone but the seller – the person who just wants to hurry up and get their money.

Hiring A Realtor

What is the best thing a consumer can do to prepare for the 2024 selling season?

Get Good Help!

To check an agent’s qualifications, go to Zillow and click on the Agent Finder at the top of their page. Zillow wants you to use one of the agents they display prominently, but all you know about them is that those agents pay the most money to be featured there.

If you have a realtor you are investigating, you’ve probably checked their business website – and noticed how they all tend to look the same. It’s why Zillow is the reliable go-to website, because they are pulling the sales data directly from the MLS so agents can’t manipulate it.

What are you looking for?

You want to hire an experienced agent who has a well-honed set of sales skills. An agent who has proven history of getting a variety of people to the finish line. An agent who can handle anything that happens, and still deliver a smooth and easy experience for you.

Things to Consider:

  1. A well-qualified agent should be closing at least one sale per month.
  2. Agents who represent sellers and buyers have a better grasp of the big picture.
  3. Those who successfully work a larger area have sales skills that travel.
  4. The agent reviews is where you can find out who is doing the actual work.
  5. There are agents who get 5.0 on every review, so don’t settle for less.
  6. Years of experience isn’t as important as number of sales in the last 12 months.

Everyone is in a hurry and wants to grab and go. But if there was ever a time to patiently investigate the choices, it’s when you’re making one of the most critical decisions of your life.

Get Good Help!

Zillow’s 2024 Predictions

In 2024, Zillow economists predict home buyers will have more options and a bit more affordability breathing room — but only a bit — after the inventory crunch and mortgage rates rising to 20-year highs were this year’s headline news items.

Buying a home will remain expensive, keeping pressure on the rental market to cater to families that will be renting longer than previous generations typically were. Many of those who do buy will turn to homes that need some work, and do-it-yourself upgrades and repairs will keep new homeowners busy.

Here are Zillow’s predictions for the housing market in 2024:

More homes will hit the market as homeowners accept that mortgage rates aren’t falling any time soon

“Higher for longer” is the key refrain regarding mortgage rates looking ahead to the next year in housing. It’s becoming clear that high mortgage rates have some staying power. Expect more homeowners who locked in long-term payments when rates were near all-time lows to list their homes for sale, as they grow weary of waiting for the historically low rates of 2021 to return.

A stubbornly small pool of homes for sale has kept competition fairly high for most of this year, even with high costs limiting the number of active buyers. With mortgage rates rising over the past two years, homeowners have been reluctant to sell, opting instead to hold onto the ultralow interest rate on their current mortgage. Many of those homeowners will have their eye on a home with a bigger (or no) backyard, an extra (or fewer) bedroom, or in their preferred neighborhood across town, and Zillow predicts more of these homeowners will end their holdout for lower rates and go ahead with those moves.

More homes on the market — even the gradual increase Zillow economists expect — would be good news for home buyers, spreading demand and easing upward pressure on prices.

Home buying costs will level off, giving hopeful buyers a chance to catch up

A typical home buyer in October would have spent more than 40% of their earnings on their mortgage payment — an all-time high in Zillow data, which stretches back to the 1990s. While affordability will undoubtedly remain the top concern for potential home buyers in 2024, there is reason to expect those challenges to ease just a bit.

Zillow’s latest forecast calls for home values to hold steady in 2024, falling 0.2%. Predicting how mortgage rates will move is a nearly impossible task, but recent inflation news gives the impression that rates are likely to hold fairly steady as well in the coming months. Taken together, the cost of buying a home looks to be on track to level off next year, with the possibility of costs falling if mortgage rates do.

That would give time for wages and buyers’ savings to catch back up — welcome news after the rapid rise in housing costs over the past two years. Wage growth has held strong, meaning the share of income spent on a mortgage will fall next year even if costs remain the same.

The new starter home will be a single-family rental

Though some improvement for home buying affordability is expected in 2024, many households will continue to be priced out. Demand — and prices — for single-family rentals will continue to increase next year as families look for a more affordable option to enjoy amenities like a private backyard or a home that doesn’t share walls with neighbors.

One possible path to more single-family rental inventory is homeowners deciding to turn their home into an investment property and rent it out rather than selling it when they move. The ultralow mortgage rates held by many existing homeowners make it more likely that this option would pencil out.

More markets will follow New York City’s lead with rental demand surging near downtowns

Throughout much of the pandemic, and even before, suburban rent prices were growing faster than rents in urban neighborhoods. [1] While the gap has narrowed, suburban rents continue to outpace urban rents in most major markets, specifically, 33 of the 50 largest metro areas. [2]

In New York City, data from StreetEasy, Zillow Group’s New York City real estate marketplace, shows demand is surging for rentals in commutable areas with easy access to Downtown or Midtown Manhattan, while areas farther from these office-laden neighborhoods are seeing relatively less demand. StreetEasy experts predict a strong year for Manhattan demand in 2024, and Zillow foresees more markets following suit, with rental demand surging near downtown centers.

Renters looking for a place near downtown will likely have more options with this year’s multi-family-construction boom, which means a huge number of new homes have hit the market. More options for renters looking for a new place means landlords who are trying to attract tenants have more reason to compete with each other on price. That’s a key reason more rental listings are offering concessions.

Traditional home buyers will compete with home flippers for homes that need a little TLC

Typically the target of home flippers, homes that need a little work before they qualify for “dream home” status will have increased interest from buyers shopping for their primary residence.

Inventory has been far below normal for a while, and though Zillow predicts more homes will hit the market in 2024, inventory will remain much lower than pre-pandemic norms. Faced with limited choices, buyers will be willing to overlook small flaws, such as an outdated bathroom or kitchen.

The higher cost of buying a home today makes a flip harder to pencil out, so buyers may face less competition from flippers than they might have in previous years. Even with less chance of being subject to a bidding war, these homes won’t come cheap, so expect buyers to frequent their local hardware stores as they work on DIY home improvements. If Zillow’s 2024 home trends to watch are any indication, expect brutalist-inspired features and sensory gardens to be on home improvement to-do lists, but not “cloffices” or Tuscan kitchen designs.

Artificial intelligence will enhance the home search experience

Generative AI made waves this year, and Zillow expects AI advancements to streamline the home-shopping and home-selling journey in 2024, improving the experience of buyers, sellers and their agents.

Zillow tech experts expect a variety of new tools and technologies designed for real estate agents next year, allowing them more time to connect with more clients and prioritize face-to-face interactions. Agents have been using AI to assist with writing listing descriptions and to create 3D content for their listings. Next year’s advancements are expected to have an emphasis on visual and multimodal capabilities, including more rich media content.

Expect home shoppers to benefit from generative-AI-powered experiences to glean valuable insights and guidance on home financing.

[1] According to Zillow Observed Rent Index data at the ZIP code level. ZIP codes were classified as urban, suburban or rural, and month-over-month and year-over-year changes were then aggregated nationally and across metro areas for each classification; those changes were then averaged.
[2] Year-over-year changes, as of October 2023.

Zillow’s Home Trends 2024

Brutalist? Here’s what’s in and out:

Do you love to set trends rather than chase them?

You can get ahead of the curve on the hottest new home design trends by checking out our predictions of which features and design elements will be trending in 2024.

We looked at nearly 300 home features and design styles mentioned in for-sale listing descriptions on Zillow and then identified the keywords showing up more frequently than they did a year ago. From post-pandemic pastimes to nostalgic designs from decades past, Zillow identified the emerging trends of 2024:

“Mother of All Commission Lawsuits”

The copycat lawsuits are pouring in now, with attorneys from across the country looking to get their piece.  The latest, called Batton 2 (other versions were filed previously), is for buyers from the last 27 years:

“All persons who, since December 1, 1996 through the present, purchased in the Indirect Purchaser States residential real estate that was listed on an NAR MLS.” For this class, the plaintiffs are asking for damages under “antitrust, unfair competition, consumer protection, and unjust enrichment laws.”

The class will include millions of people! If NAR goes out of business (which is likely), it won’t change much because we’ll still have state and local associations. We’ll have less lobbying, but lower dues!

All plaintiffs have momentum now, and the lead attorney from the first lawsuit doesn’t just want money. “One of our goals in filing the case is to make sure any changes are brought nationwide,” said Ketchmark. “We’re extremely focused on making sure any change that comes from this is real change.”

But the NAR is taking it lightly, just like they have from the beginning:

“We are currently reviewing the new filing, and it appears to be a copycat lawsuit,” Mantill Williams, NAR’s vice president of communications. “We continue to assert that the practice of listing brokers making offers of compensation to buyer brokers is best for consumers. It gives the greatest number of buyers a chance to afford a home and professional representation, while also giving sellers access to the greatest number of buyers.”

Here’s our corporate viewpoint:

Compass spokesperson Devin Daly Huerta said the company doesn’t comment on pending litigation, but provided comments from the company’s earnings call on Monday, saying the company “will respond accordingly to the complaints filed against us at the appropriate time” and that the company feels “confident that Compass is well-positioned.”

Compass pointed to rule changes at Northwest MLS that made listing broker compensation to buyer brokers optional and didn’t result in any decrease of offers of compensation or the amounts offered. “So we have evidence in a major U.S. market of what this change might look like that gives us confidence,” the company said.

“Secondly, we believe we are positioned well because we have the combination of some of the most productive agents and the only end to end technology platform in our industry. Third, we currently have agents that successfully ask their buyers to sign buyer broker agreements in order to work with them. We are in the process of launching trainings to all of our agents to empower them to successfully get buyer broker agreements signed with their buyers.

“Lastly, we operate largely in the luxury segment, where we think buyers will always want the help of an advisor through their home-buying journey.”

Similar statements from other brokerages are downplaying the impact. Yes, we will probably have better presentations of what realtors do and why we are worth the money, but anyone who thinks that will fix everything will be sorely disappointed. Consumers will be empowered to consider other options.

The only people who think that buyer-agents are needed are the agents. Buyers find homes for sale online, and they are proud about finding them before their agent does. They wonder why they need their own agent, when they can just contact the listing agent. The listing agents will be enouraging those thoughts!

Here’s a paragraph from the red team – the first to publicly mimic my prediction:

But if buyers’ agents become less common, Redfin will prosper in that world too. We run the largest brokerage website in America. We’ve built self-service technology for buyers to set up their own tours and to make offers. We’ll use that technology to market the properties listed by our agents directly to consumers, taking market share from other brokerages. We may open that platform to other listing agents who work with us as partners.

This is an opportunity for major changes to be implemented on how homes are sold, and these lawsuits are the disruption device. Realtors will roll out fancier graphics that tout the status quo, leaving it wide open for new ideas. Zillow and have surged ahead of what should have been the dominant search portal,, which NAR also screwed up when they sold it to an outside company.

Zillow has been amassing the pieces to build a super app, and create one-stop shopping for homes. If they add an auction component, it will be O-V-E-R for realtors.

Local Zillow 1-Year Forecasts

These are getting into the lazy zone now because predicting 2% to 4% increases over the next 12 months doesn’t take any real forecasting – they are just safe guesses based on historical norms which flew out the window with rising rates about 18 months ago.

They might end of being right, but at what cost? Plunging sales. To conduct real price discovery we would need a surge of new listings to test the demand, if any. Having 100 or so sales every month in an area of 300,000 people will keep prices elevated because that’s not much of a test – the market is just barely alive.

NW Carlsbad – 92008

SE Carlsbad – 92009

NE Carlsbad – 92010

Del Mar – 92014

Encinitas – 92024

La Jolla – 92037

Rancho Santa Fe – 92067

Referral Fees

Paying referral fees is a standard practice in the realtor business.

Are you thinking of moving to a new town and need an introduction to a realtor there?  Your agent here will track one down for you, and that agent will pay them a referral fee, which used to be 20% to 25% of the gross commission. The challenge? Getting good help!

Great agents don’t need any assistance with procuring new clients, and they might reluctantly pay a 20% or 25% referral fee only if the new client is motivated and in the upper regions, price-wise.

Less-experienced agents are willing to pay out higher referral fees, which doesn’t do the client any favors.

What we do is tough work, and fewer and fewer people want to do it.

It’s so hard to hire, train, and retain good/great agents now that many real estate companies are just resorting to referring clients, and taking a substantial referral fee instead.

Zillow has staff taking the incoming calls, and qualifying the leads before sending them to their Flex agents. Their referral fee is now 40% of the gross commission, AND they want buyers to use Zillow Home Loans too. Their Flex agents who send their buyers to ZHL will be rewarded with more leads, and vice versa:

Less than five percent of the U.S. real estate agent population works with Zillow (with far fewer Flex agents), and Zillow only touches around three percent of U.S. real estate transactions. They are running a small, exclusive ecosystem of agents that are willing to play by their rules, which now includes tight integration with Zillow Home Loans.

You’ve probably seen the TV ads by Homelight? The ones that pitch teaming you up with the best agents in town? Well, at least with the best agents who are willing to pay them a 30% cut of the gross commission.

Now Redfin is giving up on their agent-employee program, and they are testing the idea of hiring agents on commission splits, instead of salary and paying them “up to 75%”. It’s doubtful they will pay many of their agents the full 75% split. It’s just another way for them to get referral fees of 30% to 50%.

None of the referral fees are disclosed to the client, and it’s never discussed of how the size of the fee will impact the quality of the agent service you receive.

But most of all, any thought of commissions dropping will be fleeting at best. Commissions need to stay high in order to pay the larger referral fees!

Zillow Local Forecasts

At the beginning of 2023, the Zillow 1-year forecast for San Diego home values was -0.8%. In May, their expected 1-year appreciation rate in our local areas was around +3%.

Now they are guessing it will be around 5%….which might cause more sellers to wait longer!

SE Carlsbad – 92008

SE Carlsbad – 92009

NE Carlsbad – 92010

SW Carlsbad – 92011

Carmel Valley – 92130

Del Mar – 92014

Encinitas – 92024

La Jolla – 92037

Rancho Santa Fe – 92067

When is the best time to sell?

  1. When no one else is.
  2. When you have great comps (recent sales) around you.

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