SLO County Home Sales are NOT Up

Headlines lately told the story that while home prices had dropped, home sales were much higher than last July. This was from information from the California Association of Realtors (CAR) looking at the entire state. The local Tribune reported printed this article from a news service without any info looking at SLO County. I also saw this news posted on another local Realtor’s blog.

While I can understand the Tribune printing this headline since a majority of the articles they now print come from sources outside our area, I don’t understand why a Realtor from this area would post it without any commentary on the local market. Do they not know the facts or do they think that the headline might somehow generate business if someone read it and thought it was the truth for our area?

If you go to my site and scroll the home page towards the bottom, you’ll see the Sold graphs from First American Title. For SLO County, you’ll see that the number of Solds for 2008 is well below 2007 levels. While July’s solds closed the gap a bit from July 2007’s number, it still over 15% lower.

But, if you look at the Santa Maria area, you’ll see that indeed, the number of sales in 2008 are well above 2007. In fact, for most of the year, sales have been higher than the past 5 years! The way to explain this is as follows; the Santa Maria has a lot of foreclosures and the prices of homes in that area have dropped more than any other area on the Central Coast.

While everyone seems to be looking for the evidence that the SLO County housing market has hit bottom, it’s not going to be a state or national statistic. Inventory, foreclosures, and other factors happening at the city (and county) level will tell the story.

Plumbing Retrofits Required in Nipomo

The County Board of Supervisors voted to require homes sold in Nipomo to have water-saving toilets, shower heads, and faucets. The mandate takes effect in 30 days and requires a licensed plumber to verify the plumbing before escrow can be closed. Any home selling in the Nipomo Mesa Water Conservation Area needs to meet the new requirements.

For toilets, a 1.28 gallon or lower is required.
For showerheads, under 2.5 gallons/minute.
For bathroom faucets, under 2 gallons/minute.

I’ve looked at 1.28 gal toilets awhile ago and found that there were few choices. This toilet review site has low-flush toilets that they recommend but they are 1.6 gal.

Searching, I only found two 1.28 gal toilets from Glacier Bay and Pegasus.

I found a review on the Pegasus which starts out “This toilet has a definite design flaw”

While I applaud water conversation, it would be helpful if the County provided information on 1.28 gal toilets and had someone test these. If you have to flush 2-3 times, it defeats the intended purpose of requiring one of these.

If I was buying a home in Nipomo, I would also want to know this info. If the homeowner is going to retrofit with the cheapest option, it may be a “pain in the a**” to operate.

Impersonation of City Employees

The San Luis Obispo Police Department issued the following press release:

Last week, the San Francisco Police Department warned the citizens of that community about thieves who were impersonating employees of the San Francisco Water Department. At least nine people were victimized. In those cases, one thief would knock on the door of a resident, falsely identify himself, and say that he needed to enter the home to check water pipes. While that individual distracted the homeowner, an accomplice would slip into the home and steal valuables.

Over the last several weeks, a number of City of San Luis Obispo residents have contacted City offices to report individuals coming to their homes and identifying themselves as City of San Luis Obispo Water Conservation staff. The individuals claiming to be City employees offered to provide assistance in identifying water saving measures on the property of the residents. While the City does provide water conservation consultations for city residents, the individuals reported this week were not City employees.

As of this time, the San Luis Obispo Police Department is not aware of any residents who have been crime victims as the result of individuals impersonating City employees. The purpose of this press release is to alert all residents to be cautious of anyone claiming to be a City employee when that person is not clearly recognizable as such, particularly if that person is asking to be allowed into the resident’s home. Many, but not all, City employees wear uniforms. If you are contacted and have any doubts at all about whether an individual is a City employee, you should request that they show you a City of San Luis Obispo identification card.

If you are suspicious that anyone who comes to your home is not the person they claim to be, do not allow that person into your home, and call 911 immediately.

Ryan Baker’s Mortgage Blog

I have a grab bag of topics today. I ran across a couple of interesting sites.

The first site I viewed is, which helps people with avoiding foreclosures. I read an article on about how the organization has helped over 2 million people avoid foreclosures in the last 13 months. Their website states, “Hope Now is an alliance between counselors, servicers, investors, and other mortgage market participants. This alliance will maximize outreach efforts to homeowners in distress to help them stay in their homes…” I haven’t known anyone to use it, but it sounds like a good place to check out if you or anyone you know has foreclosure looming.

The second site is It basically takes a google map and tells you how “walkable” your city or a certain address is. It can be helpful for those moving to a new neighborhood. My favorite part of the site is the page title “How it doesn’t work”, and scroll to the section that says “Distance”. It is a pretty funny analysis of how the map works in terms of distances.

Finally, I wanted to wish you all a fun and safe Labor Day weekend. I will be spending mine visiting the Bay Area so I can participate in two annual fantasy football drafts. What some guys do for entertainment right?

If you have any mortgage related (or fantasy football) questions, you can reach me at

PS – Regarding Keith’s post from last Sunday…I’m not sure why the buyer wasn’t able to get funding(none of my business anyways), but I know they didn’t try Ryan Baker with Peregrine Lending. No brainer if you ask me 🙂

Keith’s Note: There was a lot more to the story that’s not appropriate to post. Of course, both agents tried their best to keep the deal together.

One Realtor’s Advice

The following is from a Virginia Realtor who hired a Realtor to sell a property of his in another state. Here is his advice from a Sellers perspective (he admitted he made a wrong hiring choice).

“I learned N E V E R hire a friend, a relative, or someone you feel OBLIGATED to work with. Worst thing you can do. Whomever you hire should earn the job like anyone else. They should PROVE to you that they’re the best person for the job. They should have global exposure through their internet presence and professional and social networking channels.

They should be professional marketers who also happen to show homes occasionally.

The Realtor you hire should be accountable for the results they do or don’t produce.

The Realtor you hire should have a strong grasp of the local market, and armed with this knowledge, should be able to support very accurately the price opinion they determine is best for the sale of your home within the time frame you indicated would be ideal.

Your Realtor should be excited to be a Realtor and excited about the prospect of selling your home.

The Realtor you choose should be a full-time agent who derives their livelihood solely from the sale of real estate. No part-timers. Markets change and there’s too much to keep up with now-a-days for part-timers to be truly effective and provide the best service to you with the least liability.”

Giving Realtors a Bad Name

I always like to see how other agents are trying to get people to fill out forms on websites. I received a post card in the mail from a local agent today that said “Find Out what homes sold for on your street Right Now!” and then gave a website address and code. I went to the address, put in the code, and then I was greeted with a form to fill out to request “a report”.

I then went to the home page of the site and it let me enter in an address and here is what I got back:

‘We’re sorry. We do not have recent sold data for your neighborhood available for display. However, we have REALTORS® in your area who would gladly help you with your home valuation. Request a home value report and a REALTOR® in your area will send you a detailed report showing pictures, home sizes, amenities and prices of recently sold homes, as well as homes currently for sale near your home.”

So, no info RIGHT NOW as promised.

I really try to set my website apart from other agent sites by providing REAL info. If you want home sales, use my Market Snapshot report or sign up for the VIP service to get Just Sold reports. The Market Snapshot report is automated and takes information directly from the Central Coast MLS system. Since I introduced the Market Snapshots a few months ago, hundreds of reports have been provided. If you enter in an address on the Central Coast, you should get your report within a minute or so (the system does not provide reports for other areas).

If you know someone that is looking for real estate information, make sure to tell them about my site(s)!

Sellers…Ask to See the Full MLS Listing Display

When your home goes on the market, ask your Listing Agent to send you a copy of the full MLS listing display. This is what other Realtors see when they look at your property on the MLS. It includes the commission offered, showing instructions, and an Agent remarks section.

Not only can you make sure you know how much commission is being offered (most Sellers assume the commission is split 50/50 but some Listing Agents will keep more for themselves), you can also see how the Listing Agent is marketing to agents.

The majority of MLS listings in the system don’t have anything in the Agent remarks section. This is a BLOW IT to me as the Listing Agent is missing an opportunity to further promote the home to other agents. You don’t want to duplicate what’s in the public comments but a good Listing Agent will know what to say.

If your Listing Agent says they aren’t supposed to send this to you then this is a BIG red flag. Agents aren’t supposed to provide the full listing to a Buyer but there is nothing to say the Seller can’t see it. The reason it can’t go to a Buyer is because the Seller’s contact info is usually listed on it as well (for showings).

The commission split between Listing Agent and Buyers Agent should be addressed on the Listing Agreement. MAKE SURE the percentage split is written on the agreement before you sign.