Selling Your House For Top Dollar

Gone are the days of getting a Realtor who just puts a sign out front, a lockbox on your door, and your house in the MLS and 4 days later you’re negotiating multiple offers.  These days you need an agent that’s working hard for you and is actively seeking buyers out.  I don’t feel comfortable giving away my trade secrets on a blog, but I will say that I spend serious money before the sale of the house on marketing and advertising in attempt to find buyers.  The key?  Every house is different and therefore the potential buyers will be too.  Trying to sale a 2 bedroom condo in Oceanside?  The key is to figure out WHO will be buying the house.  Maybe it’s on the first floor and would a great downgrade for empty-nesters.  Maybe it’s near Camp Pendelton and would get great cash flow for a military tenant and therefore would be a great fit for an investor.  Maybe it can also be a starter place for a first time home buyer or a small family.  Knowing the demographic of the buyer is step 1.  Getting your home in front of that demographic is where I come in.  I carry a badge.

Finding the Best Deals From Builders/New Construction

In this market the key to finding the best deals is all about timing.  Finding a home where the owners need to sale but have equity is the best chance to buy something well under market.  The same goes for builders of new construction.  They purposely try to limit supply and keep demand (and prices) high.  The economy is definitely a factor, but even in a good economy the builder doesn’t want to just dump 85 units all on the market at the same time.  So, they do it in phases.

The key is timing in the phases.  If you’re buying the first home for sale by the builder you have to understand that the sales price that goes for is going to be the basis for all other sales.  If (at the end of all the phases) there are 85 homes for sale and the first house goes for a 10% discount, every sale after that is going to have to be close to that discounted price because every other buy should be aware of the sales price.  Builders blow out the units at the end.  If they’re selling units 83, 84, and 85 of 85 total, that’s when you go in aggressive.  And when I say aggressive, I mean aggressive.  Ask for upgrades, closing costs, AND a 10-15% discount.  To have the showroom, models, sign-twirler and whole dog-and-pony show going on, the builder is paying money.  Many times the builder is more interested in closing out the project and taking the flags down rather than haggling for another $5k-$10k.  Go in with a strong down payment or at least highly qualified, and walk yourself into equity.

New to new construction, or don’t know where to start looking?  Feel free to contact me.


Hello, and welcome to  This is a site dedicated to the education and improvement of your understanding of the local San Diego real estate market.  Every day I will blog about some different segment of the real estate world as we know it from finding the best deal in new construction to learning the difference between short sale properties and bank owned REOs, to selling your home for top dollar.  I want you to view this website as a source of information and I want you to always feel free to ask questions or provide me with specific topics you’d like to see my professional opinion on.  Please enjoy it and always feel free to contact me directly.

Jeffrey Thoma

“It is my privilege to be writing this letter today on behalf of Stephen Ploetz, my realtor and friend, who for the past four and a half months has been assisting me in my search for the perfect home in San Diego. I began the search in mid March amidst a very busy schedule, as I was just finishing up graduating from UCSD and finding a job in the area. It was my first time looking into real state, and prior to meeting, Steve made sure to ask all the right questions for efficient selection of properties to view on our first outing. His professionalism and open attitude made it very easy to describe to him my hopes and fears of purchasing real estate, to which his replies were always honest and sincere. This sincerity is perhaps what has made the difference, having Steve both as a realtor with a business eye and as a friend with a vested interest in his client’s satisfaction. I noticed that at every home we visited, he was intently listening to the comments about what I liked and disliked, constantly revising the requisites for the perfect home for me. Steve’s job was not easy.

However, his job did not end at the mere discovery of the perfect home. After an arduous search, the time had come to write an offer. This is where Steve demonstrated his expertise as a realtor. As a first time home buyer, I had a lot of questions, and Steve answered every one of these questions more than adequately through his organizational
and personal skills. If there was ever a question for which he did not know the answer, or a question that he could not answer with one-hundred percent certainty, his response was, “I will look into it and get back to you.” For this response, Steve always kept his promise, even answering questions that I had forgotten I had asked. Steve was always available by phone for questions and comments and was prompt about getting back to me if he was unavailable. And when the property closed escrow more than a week early, Steve was there to welcome me into my first home and to help me move some of my furniture that same evening. To this day, Steve still follows up with me to ensure that I am confident with my purchase and to offer his services for home improvement.

I would like to commend Steve for his professionalism, affability, sincerity, honesty, and attentiveness to detail; all characteristics that I believe make him a great realtor and a great friend. With one-hundred percent certainty, I can now say that I fully recommend Stephen Ploetz as a hard-working realtor who will help anyone find the perfect home. His critical eye and good knowledge of the market allowed me to find what I feel was a great purchase for me. I feel that he will be able to do the same for anybody. Thank you for taking the time to read this letter, as I hope that you have taken equal pleasure in reading as I have had in writing.

Best Regards,
Jeffrey Thoma”

Philip Shiffman

“As you are well aware my wife and I just closed on a condominium in San Diego and Steve represented us.

This is to let you know that Steve did a wonderful job in representing us. Specifically, he handled the offer/counter offer phase to our satisfaction, he guided us through the labyrinth of California forms and answered our questions and concerns in a timely fashion.

If all of your sales reps perform as Steve, your firm should do very well.

Yours truly,
Philip J. Shiffman”

William Rickman


We greatly appreciate your excellent service with the Waxwing property. Should you wish to use me as a reference, I would be very happy to do so.


Petersson Walter Paley

“Hey Steve

I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate all the work you’ve done, trying to get this thing done.

You’ve kept your head on straight and maintained professionalism… And with this latest wrinkle, you’ve taken care of everything, even though it was my oversight to begin with.

Through it all, you’ve been a great friend… and a great agent.

I’m looking forward to celebrating the close of escrow with you.


Julie Urquhart

March 6, 2009

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing this letter in commendation for Stephen Ploetz, a realtor at the Century 21 Award office in Carlsbad, California. I have recently finalized my first real estate transaction, and he was my realtor. I would like to congratulate you on finding and hiring such an amazing asset to your realty team. He honors the Century 21 name and upholds the high standards that your company has always represented.

Had my real estate transaction been a smooth one, I would still have been impressed with Steve’s professionalism, and client relations. My transaction, however, did not go smoothly, and Steve had to coordinate a completely asinine sale, and yet he did it with ease, and grace. First, we began looking for a home almost a year ago. I dragged him all over North County San Diego. I forced him to take me to look at every dump around; this was due to my budget restrictions and home requirements. Champagne dreams on a beer budget. Steve did this willingly and with good humor. Honestly, some of the places that we went to, on my insistence, should have been condemned. I won’t go into many details, but throughout the process, we were swarmed by bees, Steve was charged by a rabid Chihuahua, we saw a house that literally gave me nightmares, and another one that we were warned by a fellow agent that I “wouldn’t last a week” due to the criminal activity in the neighborhood. He never said no, and dutifully obliged.

After seeing all of these horrors, I was pink-slipped by my school district and could not get a loan, so we had to put the whole affair on hold. Steve still kept in touched and kept looking for houses for me. I feel that many agents would have seen the money pot gone and given up; Steve did not. I was hired back and the search continued. More scary houses. We finally found a home I was interested in and could afford, placed an offer, got accepted, and the day before we were supposed to open escrow the FHA first time buyer loan assistance programs were cancelled. The whole affair was put on hold again, but we kept looking. Steve never acted frustrated with me, or like I was wasting his time. Which is amazing, because I took a lot of his time. I am a high maintenance, pain in the rear client. I call, text and email constantly, I want immediate responses, and I have no spare time, so everything has to revolve around my schedule. I know this was at best an inconvenience, and at worst a reason for Steve to consider homicide. He never showed his frustration. Now I am a middle school teacher, and have a lot of patience, but I would have killed me.

At the end of January, we finally found a house that I liked and could afford. The process got started, and everything seemed like it was going to run its course. Then I get notice that I will be getting pink-slipped again, creating a major time crunch. I needed to get funding and close my loan before I received a pink-slip. This meant I was going to have a less than 30 day escrow, and we were pushing our luck at that. Steve’s quote: “No problem, totally doable!” Luckily Steve had put me in touch with Angela Williams a lender with Prospect Mortgage, and she is also amazing. I won’t go into all the problems that came up during escrow, or the horrible escrow company. I will just say that the seller and the seller chosen escrow company made numerous mistakes, and Steve was willing to do whatever was necessary to correct other’s errors, not his job, but he fixed the problems just the same.

We have finally closed escrow on a home that I adore. Steve will finally be rid of me (or so he thinks), and it only took a year. I do not write this letter of commendation for Steve because I am an easy client, everything went perfectly, and he did a good job. I write this letter because I am a nightmare client, nothing went perfectly, and yet Steve held it together and did a superb job. Any agent can handle a simple real estate transaction, but I genuinely doubt that there are many agents out there that could handle me as a client, or this ridiculous of a transaction. Steve did it without a problem. I have no idea what special awards you give, or bonuses, or promotions, but I do know that Steve Ploetz deserves them all. I will, without hesitation, recommend Steve as an amazing realtor, and truly good person to everyone I know. Your industry would be blessed to have more agents like Steve, and you would be wise to never forget this.


Julie Urquhart
Self-Proclaimed Nightmare Client