FEATURED AGENT: JAMES HOFF OF BULLOCK RUSSEL REAL ESTATE SERVICES RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA, CALIFORNIA.
How did you get started in Real Estate?
Real estate is something I had always been interested in growing up. Sales is really in my blood. My family has been in sales related jobs my entire life. While I was interested in real estate, I felt that it was going to take some money to start the right way. Most of that money goes to putting food on the table and the roof over our heads while the business would get off the ground but long and short is that I knew there would be marketing expenses and building a business from $0 to something that would be a sustainable income would require some dollars to live on in the interim. I didn’t want to start part-time…I’m an “all-in” kind of person. I had started out in sales with DHL shipping…then moved on to an opportunity with Callaway Golf for about four years where I also did sales…and finally spent some time in sales at New Balance. The corporate world was an unbelievable experience and more importantly an education but the politics and running a business under someone else’s thumb…with their goals and “standards” just wasn’t cutting it for me. Real estate was always the “end game”… it was the retirement job for me…you know, be successful in the corporate world…make your money and then one day get your license and sell some homes…keep the brain working and have some fun. Looking back, that’s an awful way to look at this industry because it’s not really “for” the part-timer…this is a full-time, run fast and hard kind of business but the idea was dreamy. When I got tired of running business by everyone else’s rules and being their puppet…I took the leap of faith and invested in me and never looked back. Love it…not always easy…but love it.
What home features do you see trending in 2016?
Jeez…this one is tough because the “trends” change like the wind. In general, home prices are pretty high out here in Southern California. Buyers have extremely high expectations right now and most are scrambling to put the money together for down payments and just don’t want to deal with the “projects” like we’ve seen in years past. While those opportunities still exist…a lot of buyers are less willing to put up with the projects because they are spending so much already. So, in that way a big trend has been to find homes that have the upgrades. The usual…nice kitchen, nice master bath…those kind of things are always being looked for…the view homes too of course…the last couple years, I’ve seen a lot more buyers looking for bigger yards and pools…or better community amenities as the new construction homes are offering a lot.
What’s your prediction for your market in 2016?
Still a seller’s market. The prices are favoring sellers and so is the inventory. Look, I don’t think we’re going to run into some big “bubble” so no, I don’t think the market will collapse tomorrow but…I will say that there’s only so long that home prices can go up out here like they are. The prices are outpacing wage increases quite substantially and it is making it harder for people to enter the market or to move-up. Kind of like when people say “man, sure glad I’m not applying to college today…I don’t think I’d get back into the school I graduated from”… in many ways, people are considering not selling because they would barely be able to afford to re-purchase what they are already living in.
What’s the coolest or weirdest thing you’ve ever seen at an open house?
Okay…let’s be honest here…we see just about every kind of person you can imagine in this business so…that’s always fun. I once took a buyer into an open house but the mother of one of the owners had stayed behind and was laying upstairs in a hospital type gown (open in the back) with that back end hanging out for the world to see…made for a fun property tour…only a little awkward…and YES she knew and NO she didn’t care. Coolest stuff though that I see at pretty much any home now is the way people are using space. We are living in this world where the square foot cost is high so people are actually trying to do something with all of it. I love the wine rooms under the stair cases or the houses people make for the kids under the stair cases…SUPER COOL! I also like seeing how people are creating offices and casitas where you’d least expect them with the “tiny house” kind of stuff we’re seeing where people are taking storage sheds and making them into crazy cool bonus space to socialize, escape, work, for visitors, etc. Wasted space is not well accepted in the “majority” price point so seeing how people use it is cool…creative…and quite frankly is costing me money because I end up going home and implementing some of it at my own house (haha).
If you could bake cookies at an open house, what kind would you make?
100%…white chocolate macadamia nut!
Be sure to head to James’s Reloladex page to see his listings and all of the Expert Insights he has written.