Four Tips For Selling In San Diego’s Competitive Housing Market

The real estate market in San Diego is hotter than ever.

San Diego is one of the hottest real estate markets in Southern California. If you’ve been thinking about selling your home, now is one of the best times to get top dollar and cash in on your investment. Still, it’s important to keep in mind that selling your home is a process that requires proper marketing, including using a broker who is hyper-aware of the local market and can easily attract a network of buyers. 

Whether you’re merely pondering putting your home on the market or in the middle of your search for a broker, here are some helpful tips for selling your home in San Diego from Christine Baker, a top agent with Willis Allen Real Estate’s Coronado office. Seasoned and knowledgeable, she has been a real estate professional for over thirteen years and has generously shared several smart ideas that every seller needs to know. 

Finding The Right Broker Is Key

Finding the right broker to market and sell your property is the most important thing you can do. Baker suggests reaching out to a trusted advisor such as a family attorney, CPA, financial advisor, or other professionals in your sphere of influence for a personal referral. If that is not possible, she recommends utilizing online resources to research the agent and brokerage to see if the brand aligns with your goals and values. “Peruse the agent’s website to see how they market themselves as well as their current and past listings to see if you think the agent is a fit.”

After that, check online reviews. “I graciously ask my clients to complete an online review through Zillow upon close of escrow describing their experience working with me. Don’t settle for anything less than a five-star rating.”

Finally, Baker advises checking the agent’s social media accounts and LinkedIn profiles to see how they present themselves.

coronado island from across the san diego harbor

Going with a so-called discount broker may result in a sale below market rate.

Avoid “Discount” Brokers

When you sign with a discount broker, you’re likely to get a lower level of service, which can result in a lower selling price than probably anticipated for your property. “I would advise against ‘discount’ brokers if you are looking for an expert in the industry, professional experience, and a high level of personal service,” says Baker.

pink sunset in san diego

Sunshine, beautiful landscape, incredible beaches, and lots of great attractions make San Diego one of the best places to live in the U.S.

Understand How The San Diego Market Works

With its sunshine, beautiful landscape, incredible beaches, and lots of great attractions, San Diego is one of the best places to live in Southern California, if not the entire country. However, selling your home in this locale presents several unique challenges. “We are also suffering from what I call ‘seller paralysis’ in San Diego County. Many longer-term homeowners have had plans to sell their homes and downsize, move closer to the coast, or a walkable community. Finding a replacement property in San Diego County as well as many other parts of the US is so competitive that homeowners who thought they would sell are choosing to remain in their properties,” says Baker. “The limited inventory, combined with the significant increase in equity over the last two years, also creates complicated financial implications such as capital gains tax for many sellers.”

mission beach boardwalk san diego

Replacement properties in San Diego can be hard to come by, making it important to work with an agent with knowledge of other areas and off-market listings.

The other problem is that San Diego County is essentially out of large develop-able sites. “[It is unlikely there will be] enough new construction inventory to keep up with the present and foreseeable demand. Based on population data, San Diego County should add (build) 20000 new units per year to keep up with the increase in population, according to the Builders Industry Association,” says Baker. “In 2021, San Diego fell short by roughly 50 percent, bringing approximately 10000 new units to the market. This includes all housing— condos, townhomes, and single-family homes.” 

Many of these new units are high-density, vertical living properties, which Baker notes do not necessarily meet the needs of some buyers. “The option for many people to continue working remotely (post-pandemic) has created a need for larger homes versus smaller.”

palm trees in san diego

When it comes to the home-selling process, finding the right broker to market and sell your property is crucial.

You Don’t Necessarily Need To Stage Your Home In San Diego

While many people are under the impression that staging their home is a crucial part of the sales process, that isn’t necessarily the case in San Diego, at least during the current market cycle. “My goal is always to bring the highest price the market will bear. Sometimes it will involve staging or sometimes not,” explains Baker. “In a more normalized market, I strongly suggest staging if a property is vacant, but with the high demand in today’s market and properties selling over list price, it may not be worth the cost and time to stage.” 

However, Baker likes to do a pre-listing walk-through with sellers. “I will make suggestions on what they can do to improve the presentation of their property. This could involve staging, painting, removing some furniture/personal items, etc.; things to visually present the home in the best possible way to the market,” she says. 


I am a writer, design expert, host of the podcast Bougie Adjacent, and comedic performer. I am absolutely fascinated by all aspects of décor and design. It once took me six months to choose a soap dispenser and I can’t even remember what it looked like. I like bright prints, southern exposure and any location you can call a “village or town.” There are currently over 100 episodes of House Hunters on my DVR.