The Southern California Real Estate market is truly unique. The only thing the area doesn’t have is water. Most of the water in SoCal is imported. SoCal has sunshine, beaches, mountains, entertainment and just about anything else you can ask for within a four hour drive. You can even live on an island like the home for sale at 17032 Bolero, Huntington Beach, CA.
Recently the author was accused by an agent of “not knowing the market and playing games”. So I decided in all fairness, I would write the next few articles to show buyers the reality of the market and expose what is really happening. Like all things in life, follow the money and assume the other person is in CYA mode and you are more likely to find the truth. First and foremost if you are in the market to buy anything I suggest you sign up for the services at Redfin.com at the very least.
Redfin.com has some really useful tools for house hunting. While the map loads slower than Zillow.com on the iPhone, Redfin has better filters such as “under contract/pending”. When looking for a home on Zillow it quickly becomes annoying calling agents to find out the house has a solid contract and they don’t want to talk to you. Redfin lets you filter out those houses so you save time and stop annoying busy agents.
Right now, the data from RealtyTrac indicates that Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa and Newport Beach have very large differences between closing prices and listing prices. The quote last week from RealtyTrac was “The areas situation indicates inflated listing prices.” If you look at previous sales in a 3 or four block radius of any listing you find this to be very true. For instance many close to beach area houses are being listed in the mid $800’s when the last years sales in the same area peaked in the mid $700’s.
Something to keep in mind is that closings can take anywhere from four weeks to three months, so the trend data can be misleading. When looking on Redfin the listing prices are today, where the closing prices are deals made some time ago. Even so the very large divergence in List to Close prices should say something to the listing agents and sellers.
The next thing that should say something is the time on market. The time on market is the number of days the average house takes to sell from the time it is listed. Again this data isn’t up to the minute because it doesn’t get counted until the house actually closes.
This is the first area where agents can “play games”. To verify this example you will need to sign up for Redfin.com. If you don’t sign in, this house will look like a brand new listing. 17032 Bolero, Huntington Beach, CA. Today it showed up as a “New Listing”. Five days ago Redfin and the SoCal MLS site showed that it was on the market over 140 days and had already lowered the price once.
17032 Bolero is a very clean and small house, in pretty much original condition. The location is truly ideal as the only noise is the occasional neighbor doing some remodeling or a distant jet going to Long Beach. The kitchen is very “cozy”, and you will notice there isn’t a microwave, built in or otherwise. If you aren’t looking for a house with all the latest stuff and just want location, this house might be a contender. For my tastes the price is still a bit steep.
The master bedroom and bathroom at 17032 Bolero are quite large for a house of this era. It is the other two bedrooms and the second bath that are like the kitchen, “cozy”. The family room isn’t that large but it does have some great plantation shutters that open to a fantastic little patio. The patio is a great place to read and enjoy the fresh breezes off the beach. My favorite aspect of this house is that it doesn’t have Air Conditioning because it doesn’t need it.
It used to be that an agent would have to de-list a house for 30 days in order for it to show up as a new listing. Apparently that is no longer the case. After surfing dozens of homes in SoCal to see them de-listed and re-listed as new, I almost have to ask “is this fair to the buyers?” The answer is the listing agents don’t care. Many believe they are there to get the best price for their clients. I would rather have the best “deal” as a seller myself. Price isn’t everything, and sitting on an empty house for 6 month or more can be very trying on sellers. You can’t blame the listing agent for doing this, in fact you should expect it from any agent that is really working for their client.
Lucky for the buyers, there are services like Redfin so they can at least see that this game is being played.
The Author, Scott Bourquin can be reached at his website www.scottbourquin.com