House sales down again

For 2nd month, county home prices drop from year ago
By Roger M. Showley
August 12, 2006

San Diego County’s housing market weathered its second straight month of price declines in July, when overall prices dropped 1.8 percent from a year ago to $487,000, DataQuick Information Systems reported yesterday.

In San Marcos, Jason and Halé Richardson, both 32, have reserved a $1.2 million, 4,200-square-foot new home in San Elijo Hills while hoping they can sell their nearby home of 3,031 square feet for $799,000.

He’s a professional BMX bike rider and she’s a marketing director for a land-development firm. They have a 17-month-old son, Greyson, and her parents live with them.

“We’re not contingent on the sale of this one, but we’d breathe easier if we did sell,” Jason said.

Their agent, Mary Maloney, has come up with a couple of gimmicks to boost interest. She organized an ice cream social for neighbors, hoping that one of them might tell a friend about the home, and she’s prompted the Richardsons to offer a free GEM electric vehicle, worth about $9,000, to the buyer.

Competition to attract buyers in San Elijo Hills got so fierce earlier this year that the local homeowners association imposed a limit on signs pointing to open houses, which on weekends had begun to clutter street corners.

Agents and brokers have been flexing their marketing muscle, going far beyond the cookies-and-punch at open houses. They’re beefing up their Web sites, offering higher commissions to each other and taking a personal interest in “staging” homes to look their best to potential buyers.
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