What’s not to like about San Diego? Certainly not the weather or the coastal views. There are seals in their natural habitat to see, sandcastles to build, an ocean to swim in, and a world-class zoo to visit. Add in a robust local economy, boosted by a strong military presence and steadily rising home prices and home sellers especially have a lot to love about the San Diego real estate market.Does it all sound too good to be true?
We chatted up San Diego housing experts and real estate pro Jen Rix, whose sales place her in the top 4% of local agents, to get insider tips on how to showcase your home’s San Diego style and find the right buyer—i.e., one who can get a nod from a mortgage lender to pay for that lofty price tag.
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Selling a family home in San Diego? Think like a buyer
The supply of single-family homes with three bedrooms or more priced south of $800,000 are “anemic,” according to Rix.
So, whether it’s a ranch built in the 1960s or 1970s or a larger two-story home in a development built more recently, you’ll need to highlight any and all improvements in your listing description if you want to sell your house fast in San Diego.
“Buyers are already spending a lot,” Rix explained, and most won’t have thousands more to upgrade.
“So if your bathrooms or kitchen are updated, maybe with a walk-in shower and granite countertops, that’s going to really appeal to people.”
Whether it’s an old Victorian with a wrap-around porch, a Spanish mission style with a tile roof, or an arts and crafts or modern home set on an acre or more, historic homes come with their own unique flavor. And marketing these gems takes creativity.
For a home with spectacular views in La Mesa or Mt. Helix, for example, instead of the usual daytime open house for brokers and agents, Rix would try a sunset wine and cheese party out on the deck.
Hosting an open house for your Spanish-style home? Send special invitations to the neighbors, and then hire a taco truck to sit on the street outside.
Rix can attest that these unconventional marketing events will generate buzz and word-of-mouth referrals for your property.
Target your listing at millennial and military buyers
Even if they will be re-deployed in two or three years, buying a house is a high priority for thousands of local active military members, many of whom opt to rent out their property for extra income when they’re gone.
That means if your condo or townhome is in a complex that’s approved for a VA mortgage, that’s a big draw for many San Diego buyers. And, if your unit is near one of the San Diego colleges or universities, that’s another highlight, since it means there will be rental demand from students.
Got a condo in a hot downtown location? Your target buyer could be a millennial first-time buyer, who’s looking for something they can afford with great access to shopping, dining and nightlife.
Singles have a hard time buying in San Diego, simply because it often takes two incomes to pay a mortgage. No wonder the $250,000 to $500,000 range is where homes sell the fastest, lately averaging less than a month on the market—if you’ve got an entry-level house or unit, you can count on it getting snatched up quick if you put it on the market in San Diego.
This is San Diego! Pay attention to the outside of your home
Looking to dress up your front step with some greenery and vibrance before you start booking showings?
You’re on the right track. Small touches, like painting the front door a fun, bright color can boost your curb appeal factor. Top it off with some clever plant selections and you’ll be sure to entice San Diego buyers to take a look inside.
The tropical Giant Bird of Paradise and Foxtail Agave plants are attractive varieties—especially if you put them in decorative pots. These plants can tolerate a range of sun exposure and water volumes, says Jennifer Webster, board member of the San Diego chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects and owner of JW Botanica.
Homeowners who have perennial grasses, lilies, and any agaves or succulents can propagate (divide) them and fill in empty spaces in beds near the entryway.
“Xeriscaping” is a popular San Diego landscaping technique that involves spreading gravel or rocks to achieve a neat, attractive aesthetic to landscaping beds, even without plantings. But put down a weed barrier fabric first, said Webster.
If you have a deck or patio, or even just a balcony with your condo, emphasize how these outdoor spaces offer the San Diego bonus of year-long living areas. Place a planting or two inside, near the doorway, to emphasize how the space flows right outside.
Treat the outside table and other areas like you would the inside, making sure they’re clean and decluttered.
Enlist the pros to price your San Diego house to sell fast
Prices for existing homes in San Diego have been rising at more than a 7% annual clip recently—and pacing even higher in some areas.
When setting a list price, “I let sellers decide how aggressive they want to be,” explained Rix.
First, though, she presents them with detailed information on how their home compares to similar ones in the area sold in the past few months.
Some buyers decide to peg their price a bit lower than what the trend indicates, hoping to spark a bidding war. Inch up too high, however, and your home won’t appraise at the sale price, meaning your buyer might not be able to get a mortgage.
But according to San Diego appraiser Noble Tucker, who’s been in the appraisal business for 33 years, if there’s a clear “defensible” case for the purchase price, it should appraise for that amount.
“I am always there when the appraiser is [evaluating] the home,” adds Rix.
She points out which features make a home worth more than comparables, and helps to highlight rising price trends.
Pencil in a list date based on the best time to sell in San Diego
One big reason for the summer sale sprint? Families want to get settled before school starts.
The year-end holidays also mean both sellers and buyers put plans on hold.
“But the buyers who are out [during the holidays] are really motivated,” said Rix.
So if you’re motivated, too (that means being able to step out for buyer showings whenever necessary, and keeping the place clutter-free), you can still sell your house fast in the off-season.
Selling your house in San Diego? Make it an (ocean) breeze
San Diego has wide appeal to many different types of buyers.
Millennials come for the highly skilled jobs and athleisure wear, live downtown or hop the Coaster commuter train. Thousands of military and their families come because they are stationed here, with San Diego having the largest concentration of active duty personnel.
Among all these house hunters, you just need to find the right buyer for your home. And to do that, you’re looking for a real estate agent who gets the area and what your house has to offer.