There She Goes Again…Latest in La Paz Real Estate News

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By Susan Fogel

Almost daily prospective sellers call me, asking me to talk to them about listing their home. And I say “home” and not house because to the seller, it is home. They have poured their dreams and money into making their piece of paradise just so.

Then, along comes Susan to douse them with cold water. Admittedly some sellers have been upset to the point of being insulted by my assessment of the value of their home. Many have decided not to list and to wait for the market to “come back”. Some tell me they are aware of the market, and they want to price their homes to sell. Other sellers want to “try” their house at a slightly higher price and agree that at a certain point, they will lower the price.

We have a very short selling season; “trying” a higher price costs the seller valuable time. Buyers are here to buy and often have only a week to make a decision, they may not even see your house because your “trial price” falls outside their search parameters.

Later, I will give you statistics for the 13 months (October 2013 through this November).BUT! Before that, I want you to know that I took a dose of my own medicine. It was bitter. But you know what? I SOLD MY HOUSE!

We built a gorgeous, minimalistic, green-constructed home on the beach with an income producing guesthouse. It was built to California earthquake standards and Florida hurricane codes. It came through Hurricane Odile unscathed. Every high-end accoutrement that I longed for was put in that house, including a bubbling tub with a beach view.

It cost us over $500,000 US dollars to build it. We spent tens of thousands of dollars on annual maintenance. We sold it this past August for $395,000. OUCH! BUT… we did sell the house. We are happy with our decision and the new owners are happy with theirs. We rode the market down, Three years ago, I sold the house next door, comparable in every way, except it was rustico in style for $599,000. DOUBLE OUCH!

If your house is at all “different”, or it does not have the most updated kitchen and bathrooms, or is too modern (as was my house), you limit your chances of getting top dollar. Keep the end goal in mind: selling your home, recouping capital, maybe moving back to the old country, or like me, building again.

When I meet with you and suggest a price for your home, it is not a guess. It is an experienced and researched price assessment. Members of the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), have the statistics of what homes, condos, and land sold for, neighborhood-by-neighborhood, at our fingertips. The hard truth about our market is that once you get in the neighborhood of $300,000 plus, your pool of buyers dwindles.

Some agents are afraid to hurt your feelings, others want your listings so badly that they will agree to your asking price. They are doing you and themselves a grave disservice. Real estate agents work on commission, the higher price that you get for your house, the higher is the agent’s commission. So it would follow that it would be in the agent’s best interest to sell your house at a higher price. But if a high price does nothing to attract buyers, the agent loses, and the seller still has ongoing maintenance costs, and an aging listing. The MLS is open to the public; they can search your property and know how many days your house has been for sale.

Now for some statistics—from October 1 until today, 103 properties sold in La Paz (including El Centenario, Chametla, and El Comitan). The average selling price was $141,153 and the average number of days on the market was 287 days.

The neighborhoods of Lomas de Palmira and Esterito, two lovely areas, had NO SALES in the last 12 months. The reason for the lack of sales here is PRICE. We have two beautiful listings there that are priced over $300,000.

Centro had 5 sales with an average list price of $285,000 and an average sale price of $219,000; an average difference between the two is –$18,950.Those houses were on the market for an average of 236 days. The Fide Paz neighborhood had four sales, with an average sale price of $225,000 and the difference between asking and selling prices was –$22,750. Those sellers waited an average of 108 days.

The El Centenario/Comitan area fared well. Ten homes sold, with an average list price of $148,000 and an average sale price of –$11, 500. These 10 houses were on the market for 167 days. Aside from the price I received for my house, the average price in the area was significantly lower.

Overall, condos have done well, with 19 sales at an average list price of $163,000 and only a negative $1,500 for average sale price. But they were on the market for 492 days. These condo number are skewed by Costa Baja and La Concha, where the list prices are high, and the sales are sluggish.

The season is now in full swing. My agents, Brenda and Rossi, and I are here to help you sell or buy a home.

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