Coastal San Diego Living

More Home Buyers Are Going Hunting Alone, Is It A Mistake?

by Tisha Carney 9. May 2011 11:18

After years of trepidation, home buyers are finally beginning to wade back into the housing market. But as they do, many are making the surprising choice to hunt alone, rejecting the assistance of what's known in real estate as a buyer's agent – which many experts say is a mistake.

buying san diego real estateFor years, house-hunters have had the option to work with a real estate agent who shows them properties and may ultimately negotiate the price – a counterbalance to the agent who almost invariably represents the seller. But now fewer buyers are taking it. Of the buyers who purchased a property through a real estate agent, just 57% had buyer representation, according to a 2010 report by the National Association of Realtors. That's down from 62% in 2009 and 64% in 2006, before the housing bust. Also, fewer buyers are first learning about the home they purchase from real estate agents: just 37% are reporting real estate agents as their first source of information on the home they purchased, down from 50% a decade ago, according to NAR.

Many experts think this is a bad move – worse, for example, than trying to sell a house without an agent. For one thing, in most cases, a buyer doesn't pay an agent; the buyer's agent splits the commission with the seller's agent, so the services are essentially free to the buyer. Also, a buyer's agent can access historical sales price data for home sales in the area (not found on the consumer based websites), which means he/she can recommend a bidding strategy that targets comparable properties that sold for less money in order to get a better deal for the buyer. John Vogel, adjunct professor of real estate at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, calls going through this process alone "a mistake."search san diego real estate

There are lots of reasons buyers may choose to represent themselves. The real estate listings and detailed information that was once only available to real estate agents -- like median sales prices in a neighborhood, the amount of days a home has been on the market, and how many price cuts it has endured – are now online. However, much of the information provided on such consumer based websites is often faulty or misleading in an effort to get prospective buyers to contact the website administrators directly.

On the other hand, some house-hunters may think they are working with a buyer's agent, when in reality, they're actually dealing with a seller's agent. Many buyers contact the agent listed with the property or walk into an open house thinking the agent is working in their favor. However, in these cases the agents are contractually obligated to represent the seller’s best interests only.

search san diego real estateThere are several more reasons why buyers may be at a further advantage when they work with a buyer's agent – at least compared to relying on a seller's agent for advice or guidance. Remember, a seller's agent is contractually obligated to help make the sale happen in the seller's favor, often as close to the asking price as possible. And buyers' agents are contractually obligated to only represent the best interests of the buyer. Buyers agents can also suggest home inspectors, lenders, plumbers, etc. that they've worked with before.

When searching for a buyer's agent, experts recommend looking for a full-time experienced broker. Such an agent will be further involved in the market by previewing new listings on the weekly caravan, they might drive around a neighborhood looking for signs of properties that are for sale by owners or mail letters to existing homeowners alerting them to a buyer who's interested in a similar property to theirs. And by the time a buyer enters into a contract, that buyer’s agent will be there to look for red flags in order to prevent challenges from arising through the escrow process and beyond.

Overall the experts agree that it’s vital for home buyers to obtain the services of an experienced buyer’s agent to help them navigate through the home buying process. On average, the buyer will get a better deal and they will avoid many of the pitfalls that going it alone can result in.

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What's Making San Diego Rents Go Up?

by Tisha Carney 29. April 2011 08:15

San Diegans are paying slightly more rent in March than a year ago — driven by minor traction in the local job market, an uptick in distressedsan diego rent increases homeowners having to lease again and more young adults leaving Mom and Dad’s nest after a brief post-college stay.

The average monthly rent in the county increased 1.5 percent, to $1,335 in March from $1,315 the same time last year, according to numbers from a twice-yearly rental report from MarketPointe Realty Advisors, a San Diego based data company.

The San Diego rental market is stable and will likely see steady increases this year tied with the normal rate of inflation, according to property managers and data analysts. Peter Dennehy, a vice president of John Burns Real Estate Consulting, says the local market echoes what’s happening nationwide: Rents are increasing as an anemic economy gains strength. The consulting company, which has an office in San Diego, projects rent locally will jump 30-plus percent within five years.

SAN DIEGO RENTS INCREASE“People are out shopping,” said apartment manager Luis Leguizamo, who recently tacked on $25-30 a month for residents at the Loma Portal Apartments, near Point Loma.

“The economy is somewhat stimulated,” he added. “People are in the position to move and consider paying a higher rate.”

Here’s a look at some of the factors that are driving up rental rates:


More Californians are getting jobs, part of what’s helping the rental market.The state created almost 100,000 jobs in February, mainly in areas such as technology and construction. San Diego’s job count went up by 2,000.


Many San Diego homeowners who have lost their homes to foreclosure or via a short sale have shifted back to renting. Property managers throughout California have said they’re willing to work with would-be renters that have foreclosures or short sale history. All they ask is that prospective tenants be clear and forthcoming about their credit and history. Eric Wiegers, of the California Apartment Association, said some landlords might charge higher security deposits to these tenants. “People are definitely doing that,” Wiegers said. “It’s a legitimate practice.”


Another driver of higher rents is a trend called unbundling. This happens when college grads, often without jobs, return to their parents’ homes for a year or two, and then after saving up for a year or two, move out. “As the job market gets better, folks who were forced to double up can now live alone,” said Nevin, of MarketPointe.

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Analysts Say San Diego Housing Is on the Way Up; Bottom Hit Late 2010

by Tisha Carney 26. April 2011 07:49

Analysts at both Standard & Poor’s and Barclays Capital agree that the uptick in home resales last month is a favorable sign of things to come. Because pending home sales — an indicator of future activity — were up in February, S&P believes transaction volume SAN DIEGO HOUSING MARKET IN RECOVERYwill rise for April.

Barclays, meanwhile, says March’s 3.7 percent gain in existing-home sales merely reinforces its position that the housing market actually hit bottom in late 2010. Aligned with the national housing market, the San Diego housing market has also seen a significant improvement.

Existing home sales in March rose 3.7 percent from February to an annual rate of 5.10 million units, the National Association of Realtors said on Wednesday. Economists had expected a smaller increase to a 5.0 million-unit pace.

"The underlying trend for existing home sales is improving, but only at a gradual pace," said Michael Gapen, an economist at Barclays Capital in New York. "Demand should gradually firm as labor market SAN DIEGO HOUSINGconditions continue to improve."

With U.S. and San Diego unemployment beginning to fall and significant job growth seen in February and March, economists are cautiously optimistic home sales will continue to rise as the year progresses, putting a floor under prices.

Analysts also cited a jump last week in demand for home loans as boding well for the housing recovery. The Mortgage Bankers Association said on Wednesday that its purchase loan index rose 10 percent to its highest since early December.

"The housing market in terms of demand has bottomed. We have some reason for modest optimism as we go through 2011," said Peter Muoio, a senior principal at real estate research firm Maximus Advisors in New York.

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81% of Americans Believe Buying a Home is Still the Best Long-term Investment

by Tisha Carney 18. April 2011 10:43

The real estate bust appears to have done little to alter Americans' confidence in the investment value of homeownership. A robsan diego american dreamust 81% of adults said buying a home is the best long-term investment a person can make, according to a national survey by the Pew Research Center in Washington.

"Owning a home is really a part of the American dream, and that is just part of the American psyche and something that people aspire to," said Kim Parker, associate director for the center and one of the study's authors.

The study's results were unexpected, given the deep plunge in home prices and the fallout from the mortgage crisis, she said. Homeownership topped the list of long-term financial goals for Americans, according to the study; respondents rated homeownership, as well as living comfortably in retirement, more important than sending children to college or leaving offspring an inheritance.

The public's faith in real estate has been bruised since the last time a comparable survey asked people about the wisdom of investing in real estate. A total of 37% of respondents said they "stronglyBUYING A SAN DIEGO HOME agree" that homeownership is the best investment a person can make while 44% said they "somewhat agree." The same question was asked by a CBS News/New York Times survey in 1991, and at that time 49% "strongly agreed" and 35% "somewhat agreed."

While home prices have entered a renewed decline after showing some improvements last year, many economists believe that the worst of the housing crisis is probably over. That sentiment could help to explain the resiliency in Americans' optimism.

"People may have the feeling that the worst is behind us," Parker said.

Though other investments such as stocks tend to produce a better return, the housing market has generally avoided the wild swings that the stock market has over time, potentially helping to explain real estate's lasting allure, Parker added.

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