Real Estate Miscellany

(After enjoying a long six hours of a disappeared-into-the-void blog, our server is back up, and I am once again a happy girl. So, now, we resume our regular programming.)

Given the choice of watching the Charger’s game this weekend or sitting in a dark room wringing my hands about the impending collapse of our financial markets, I instead chose to direct my attention to the matter of cookies — not the computer kind, but the kind you ship to your daughter’s college dorm room. (Alas, I think I overlooked the baking soda.) And whenever a real estate agent attempts to grasp the brass ring of leisure, something has to give. So it’s time to play some blogging catch-up.

I have let myself get backed up on email questions from our readers. The Ask the Brokers button here has always been a crowd favorite, and this week was no exception. Here are the latest three questions I received (and as a point of clarification, these are all verbatim, presumably from those little spam-bot demons who like to visit me on a regular basis):

Q. Ma284zda asks, “c752t?” Or, maybe it was just a comment. I’m not entirely sure.

A. Yes, it is true. No agent in San Diego County was able to show a home most of yesterday, much less get into their own listings. You can blame it on Ike.

Due to Hurricane Ike and a strong Canadian cold front coming into the Ohio Valley, there are wide spread power outages affecting SentriLock. They have limited phone services and their ISP service provider is offline. Normal web site access is blocked…

Sentrilock is the lockbox key provider for our MLS, and what this means is that our access keys which need to be updated daily were rendered useless. For listing agents, this meant that showing information could not be downloaded, so our Monday morning feedback reports were scuttled as well.

Q. Ma909zda (and I believe he may be related, at least by marriage, to the Ma284zda) wrote, “c33t.”

A. I couldn’t agree more. In fact, based on their 2008 Survey of Home Buyers, the California Association of Realtors (CARs) wrote:

Due to the high inventory of homes on the market, and uncertainty about the direction of home prices, buyers are more cautious and are moving at a slower pace during the home buying process than in previous years.

In San Diego, particularly in the North County communities we serve, it is worth noting however that inventory is not all that high. In Scripps Ranch, we continue to hover around the 100 mark for active single-family detached listings. This number is moderate by historical standards, and any agent who is actively searching on behalf of a buyer client will readily admit that there is not an abundance of good (well priced, staged and located) homes for sale. True, buyer jitters are a huge factor in our market, serving to drive market times up and even prices down, but we shouldn’t forget the huge roll that the current financial crisis is playing in stalling our market. Loans are difficult to come by, even for the most credit-worthy applicants, and no loan means no home purchase. Sometimes, we know early in the process that financing is going to be an issue; too often, however, we are only learning this mid-escrow as underwriting policies change.

Q. Google offered, “http://search.live.com.”

A. Google (if that really is his name) raises a very timely issue. Just why is it that so many buyers agents, agents faced with a more challenging real estate environment, continue to relegate their traditional property showing duties to the listing agents? More importantly, why do their clients allow them to do this?

In the same 2008 report, CAR says, “The Internet… continues to play a vital role in this process and has solidified the relationship between REALTORS® and home buyers.”

I’m not seeing that, at least not this week. Just yesterday, we received two calls from buyers asking us to show one of our listings, each of whom admitted to having an agent. “Why don’t you have your agent show you the home?” we asked. In one case, the buyer said her agent is out of town. I must confess that in this case, we ultimately conceded. It turns out her agent was in fact in Europe, but I have to wonder how he is going to write the offer if she does decide that this is her dream home. According to the agent (who ultimately phoned us from Europe to cop a plea), he has assistants, but they are just too busy with other work. If she wants to write an offer, however, he assured us that they would get “un-busy” really quickly.

The second call came from a buyer who told us that he has an arrangement with his agent. He does all of the legwork and, once he finds the right home, the agent will write the offer. “I don’t want to bother him while I am just looking,” he said. Cool. Bother me, then. I certainly don’t want to be the one inconveniencing the man who will be taking half of the sales commission. Besides, what else do I have to do? It’s not like I am baking cookies or anything. At least, I won’t be at 4:00 today.

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