The El Segundo Way

The two main agents in town like to go fishing. That is they stick a for sale sign out in front of the house weeks (or months)  before a home hits the MLS in hopes they sell it before even having to schedule an open house. There’s enough interest and word of mouth that word gets around quickly to locals that are shopping for homes. Best case scenario is that the house changes hand before wasting times with open houses. As a super-duper added bonus the real estate agent gets to represent both the buyer and the seller netting them 5-6%. 

I mentioned this tactic to an agent once and they said it was illegal. Maybe, maybe not. Ironically one of the two main agents has recently changed this tactic to “coming soon”. I guess it’s ok to advertise in the newspaper, zillow and with a sign before it’s on the MLS as long as you mark it as “coming soon”. 

As a seller no one likes to deal with the process of selling a home. Decluttering, cleaning and keeping the house maintained. Leaving the house for several hours on the weekends while strangers traipse around your house. It sounds like a win-win if my listing agent presents an offer on a silver platter without having to go through the process. The good is that it’s easy and quick, the bad is that you don’t know how much money you are leaving on the table by not opening up the process to traditional bidding. After all, a bidding war and getting the highest sale price is the name of the game. 

As a potential buyer I feel cheated because I didn’t get the chance to look or participate in the process if I wasn’t one of the lucky ones to see or hear about the for-sale sign.  It’s also how I learned my lesson that if you want to buy or sell in this town you have to use the clique of local real estate agents. I tried buying a home using a family friend that’s an agent, he often got the cold shoulder from the local cabal of agents. When I called on these unlisted properties it was a hard press about who my agent was and often times insinuated that I was missing out by not being with a member of the cabal. 

Let’s talk about 812 McCarhty Ct. One of these “let’s put a sign out for a couple weeks to see if it sells”. Zillow lists it as 112 days on. That puts us at June 4, 2016. When I follow the trail of breadcrumbs to when I first saw the for sale sign it was April 25th, which is 152 days. I know because on April 25th I got the notice of a new home for sale at 

800 McCarthy Ct. When I went to drive by 800 McCarthy I noticed that 812 had a sign and asked my agent to do some digging. He came back that it wasn’t on the MLS. I called Bill Ruane’s office and they said they weren’t showing the house, but were taking offers. 

I swear, that’s what they said. WTF? I can make an offer but can’t see the house. The house had been purchased in 2014 and there were still old listing photos online that showed that the house had potential. Yet we all know what good real estate photos do for a listing. We blew it off at $1.25 mil and we were more interested in 800 MCarthy which was listed at $949k. 1700 sq feet under one million was looking fairly attractive. We weren’t interested enough to commit to the project that would be required to make the home nice but apparently someone else was.  The house sold for 18% over asking at $1.1 mil. 

A few months down the road 812 McCarthy finally hit’s the MLS but we blow it off. By June I’ve already thrown in the towel and vowed to stop looking at homes for sale. I happened to drive by the house in July and saw a moving truck and the for sale sign still up I started to think that maybe there’s a deal to be had. We scheduled a viewing and saw exactly why that house had been sitting for three months. It’s a frankenstein of a house, you can see the original 1950s footprint, then when they added on in the 70′s then when they added on in the 80s. It needed new baths and a kitchen and no matter what, you still had a fucked up floor plan. It isn’t worth anywhere close to asking. 

But there’s always a greater fool. The house now shows pending so someone was willing to drop $240K and $5000/month to call it a home. Good luck. 


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