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Selling a house in San Diego

San Diego, CA homes on a hillside
Bruce Yuanyue Bi/Getty Images
San Diego, CA homes on a hillside
Bruce Yuanyue Bi/Getty Images

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If you own a home in San Diego, it’s certainly a good time to sell: Home values have increased by 19 percent in the last year, according to data from the San Diego Association of Realtors. And while plenty of people want to live in one of the best places to call home in California, there simply aren’t enough homes available to buy. It’s a good feeling to be a seller in a seller’s market.

Deciding to sell a house in San Diego, CA

Before you decide to list your San Diego property, you’ll need to plan for where you’re heading next. Remember that the current housing-supply shortage isn’t limited to San Diego alone; it’s fueling high prices in most places around the country. So, if you’re planning to sell your house while buying another at the same time, you’ll want an idea of the down payment you need for your next property. Otherwise, think about finding a short-term rental to help you eliminate the potential stress of finding a new home immediately. You’ll also want to budget for the costs of moving.

When should I sell my San Diego house?

The best time to sell tends to be in spring and summer. However, if you’re trying to figure out the best time to sell a house in San Diego, the answer is right now. That’s due to the current seller’s market conditions. The median value of properties here topped the $1 million mark in April 2022, and the number of homes on the market has decreased by 23 percent in the past year. So, following the basic law of supply and demand, your home is a highly sought-after asset.

Things to consider when selling your house in San Diego

Don’t let the seller’s market fool you into thinking that selling will automatically be a smooth and easy process. Here are some questions to think about as you enter the market.

What condition is your home in?

Most buyers want a move-in-ready home — meaning they’d rather not have to purchase a place in need of major repairs. When was your roof last replaced? Is your HVAC system running well? One of the keys to selling your house is making sure that buyers will be impressed. Try to strike a balance between making crucial repairs without investing in anything too major: Bigger projects, like redoing your entire kitchen, will likely not recoup their costs.

How fast do you need to sell your house?

Homes in San Diego tend to sell quickly. The most recent report from the San Diego Association of Realtors pegged the median number of days on the market at 21. However, it can wind up taking much longer. Plus, interest rates are rising, so buyers may have a more challenging time securing the financing they need. Think about your personal situation: Can you afford to let your home sit on the market for longer than expected? Are you in a rush to relocate for a new job? Your timeline will have an impact on your sales strategy.

What taxes and other fees will you have to pay?

Selling a home in San Diego isn’t just about the profit you’ll make. You need to factor in a range of selling costs. The biggest chunk of cash will likely involve real estate commissions, which are typically 3 percent to your own agent and 3 percent to the buyer’s agent. So, on a $700,000 sale, a seller can expect to pay $42,000 in agent fees.

You will also need to pay real estate transfer taxes, which cover transferring ownership of the home to the buyer. In San Diego, the price is $1.10 per $1,000 of value. So on a $700,000 home, the transfer taxes would be $770.

There are more fees to consider, too, including the amount you’ll owe for the remainder of your property tax bill and fees for a real estate attorney to help negotiate the contract language.

What potential issues must you disclose?

California requires sellers to complete lengthy disclosure documents that highlight everything from potential flooding and wildfire hazards to any deaths on the property in the last three years. Basically, you need to let a buyer know about any potential problems that could impact the value of the home. Be transparent and include every detail to avoid potential legal trouble in the future.

Preparing your home for sale in San Diego

First impressions are everything in real estate. That means more than just cleaning. Start with the outside: Add some quick curb appeal with simple, low-cost touches like power washing the driveway, cleaning the windows and painting the front door. Then, focus on the interior. While your home’s layout may work for you and your family, it might feel cluttered or outdated to someone else. One of the easy ways to address these issues is with home staging. It will cost you some money — anywhere from a few hundred bucks for light design work to thousands of dollars for monthly furniture rentals. But that investment can create a big return: Higher offers and/or a quicker sale.

Sell your house with a local Realtor

The right real estate agent can make all the difference when you’re ready to sell your home in San Diego. A Realtor handles all the headaches: taking high-quality photographs, marketing the listing and hosting open houses. It’s smart to compare multiple real estate agents and ask these important questions to get a sense of how each of them will approach your listing.

Alternatives to selling with a real estate agent

You aren’t required to work with a real estate agent in San Diego. There are two other avenues to sell your home.

  • iBuyers: Companies like Opendoor and Offerpad specialize in iBuying. These offers are geared toward homeowners who want to sell for cash, quickly. While it might sound good to get an offer on your home within 24 hours of submitting a form online, you are likely going to give up a chunk of potential profit if you go this route.
  • Do it yourself: You can also consider the FSBO, or For Sale By Owner, approach. This can be tempting, as you won’t have to pay any real estate commissions. However, it’s important to recognize that selling a home takes a lot of work. Plus, national statistics show that typical homes sold with a real estate agent command more money than those sold by the owner, and the gap is more than enough to cover the commissions.

Pricing your home to sell

A seller’s market doesn’t mean you should list your home for an insanely high price tag right off the bat. Instead, take steps to understand what your house is worth. Look at comps in the area to get an idea of the price recent sales have commanded. Your real estate agent should walk you through these before you agree on a listing price. You want your listing price to attract loads of interest — if you can receive multiple offers, you can leverage the competition and potentially get more than you’re asking. In fact, that’s a fairly common occurrence here: Over the past year, the average home in San Diego sold for 103.6 percent of its original asking price.

Getting to closing day

After you make a deal with a buyer, there will be plenty of additional steps before you receive the money. While much of the work falls on the buyer’s shoulders, you will need to handle some responsibilities, including making any repairs included in the contract (be sure to save your receipts to prove these were completed) and cleaning it up for the buyer’s final walk-through.

Your agent and attorney will handle most of the work on closing day. Just be sure to find out how much you need to pay in closing costs, and get a cashier’s check for the total amount. Now, it’s officially time to wave goodbye to your San Diego home.

Written by
David McMillin
Contributing writer
David McMillin is a contributing writer for Bankrate and covers topics like credit cards, mortgages, banking, taxes and travel. David's goal is to help readers figure out how to save more and stress less.
Edited by
Senior real estate editor