In A Competitive San Diego Market, It Takes A Buyer’s Broker To Stand Out

If you’re thinking of moving to Southern California, there’s no better place to consider than sunny San Diego. Much of that can be attributed to San Diego’s diverse neighborhoods—from oceanfront enclaves to gated equestrian communities to downtown hot-spots—to live in, according to Ayush Vats, a top-producing agent with Willis Allen Real Estate in San Diego.

“San Diego is an extremely unique market that offers very different experiences within a relatively small geographic area. For example, even with oceanfront real estate, the coastal life in La Jolla or Encinitas is markedly different from the surfer vibes in Ocean Beach. Away from the beach, you can experience the hustle of downtown or the quieter, more open, and active lifestyle inland in El Cajon,” Vats shares. “San Diego also has wonderful equestrian properties in areas like Rancho Santa Fe that attract a totally different kind of clientele than neighborhoods like North Park, with all of its breweries, restaurants, and retail spots.” 

A laid-back lifestyle and year-round fair weather are part of why San Diego’s market is hotter than ever right now, with sales routinely closing for over the asking price. That’s why working with the right buyer’s broker is key. So, how do you find a buyer’s broker and vet their skills? Vats shares insight into the process of buying in San Diego and what to look for in a real estate agent.

How To Find The Right Broker

Vats says that a Google search is a great starting-off point for finding a broker, particularly if you don’t live in the area; however, getting personal recommendations through your social network, both online and in real life, is a better idea. “Getting a feel for the agent’s personality and attitude towards their work is crucial and can be gleaned from their social media and web presence. With most good agents using video these days, it’s not hard to get a feel for who they are as a person and if their style meshes with your own life attitudes.”

la jolla neighborhood

San Diego’s communities are nuanced, making it all the more important to work with an agent who is on top of their market knowledge

Look For These Signs

Once you’ve spoken to a few brokers and you’re narrowing down who to work with, it’s important to make sure that person is not only proactive but will also anticipate obstacles down the road before they even happen. “Find an agent that is on top of their market knowledge, proactively provides suggestions on making your offer the strongest it can be, and makes a personal connection. When you find that perfect mix, you can rest assured that you’re in good hands,” Vats explains.

modern san diego building made of glass and steel

When it comes to finding a home in San Diego, it pays to be vigilant. That means keeping red flags in mind.

Don’t Miss Any Red Flags

While we all do our best in terms of due diligence, mistakes can still be made. It’s best to be vigilant and keep some red flags in mind. “A broker that constantly shows a lack of understanding of what you want — the type of house, your price point, or preferences is an immediate red flag,” explains Vats. “You also want to be aware if they are constantly reactive versus proactive. That type of approach just won’t get you accepted in this market. While people often equate years on the job with experience, that can sometimes be a misconception. You want to find an agent who is driven by a passion to represent your interests in the best way they can.”

san diego bay aerial view

San Diego is a unique market that’s strongly influenced by the natural landscape of the area.

Buying In San Diego Isn’t Like Buying Any Place Else In The Country

San Diego is a unique market that’s strongly influenced by the natural landscape of the area. Because of the coast, it’s only possible to build in three directions. “[This adds] pressure on home prices closer to downtown and the already high in demand coastal areas. Additionally, because these are some of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, as a new buyer to San Diego, you’ll find that many of these houses in the city are really expensive and a little older, and need updating in major areas like plumbing and electrical systems.”

Sticker shock is often an issue for out-of-state buyers who may not be used to paying at least $1000-per square-foot for a fixer-upper.

pink san diego sunset reflected over water

A winning offer is often based on a high bid and a buyer’s profile and presentation.

Asking Price Is Just The Beginning

In today’s market, it’s very likely you will need to go over the asking price. Then the process truly begins. “A good agent doesn’t just submit an offer and cross their fingers,” reveals Vats. “The most crucial thing any seller can be provided is certainty, which isn’t always reflected by the absolute highest amount. The best offer is often a winning combination of factors like a high price and a high likelihood of closing based on your buyer profile, clear intent to close, and the representation provided by your agent.”

Ready to start your home search in San Diego? Click here to see the latest luxury inventory from Willis Allen Real Estate.


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.