When a Job Layoff Forces You to Sell Your San Diego Home Fast

by | Oct 13, 2016

A recent client (let’s call him James) called me after having been recently laid off from his sales job after nearly two years at a high-end art gallery here in downtown San Diego. The company’s sales had been declining for a couple of years, and the owner had reached a point where he just couldn’t keep up with the rent and overhead to pay James and the other employees. When he decided to retire and let go of the business, the entire sales staff was abruptly terminated.

Once he accepted the initial shock of no longer having his income to rely on to pay his expenses, which included a pretty hefty mortgage payment, James hit the job pages of Craigslist, but weeks began to pass without even a potential employment offer. With his savings depleted and unemployment compensation far from covering his expenses, James needed to sell his home and move back in with his parents. He was very lucky they were there for him. Unfortunately, the market for selling his home was not in his favor.

Getting Your Home to Market as Quickly as Possible

In August 2016, the median home price in San Diego County hit a record high. For some sellers, a traditional sale through a realtor would be the best option to maximize profit in the hot San Diego marketplace. However, James just didn’t have the time, and his property needed a good deal of maintenance and repairs that he had never gotten around to dealing with and no longer had the funds for. Waiting even a few months to sell his home was not an option he wanted to face. But the home needed to sell, and there were several routes he could pursue.

For Sale by Owner

James loved Craigslist, and I explained that he could try to sell his property as a For Sale by Owner by advertising in the “real estate for sale” section on the website. The caveat, I warned him, was that the majority of the calls he would receive would likely be from real estate agents just looking to list his property for him.


  • Saving thousands in commissions costs
  • You only need to show your home when you want
  • A potentially higher net profit if you are a skilled negotiator


  • The paperwork and disclosures required by law can be overwhelming
  • Greater liability if something goes wrong
  • Without representation, the buyer could take advantage of the seller
  • Marketing is entirely on your shoulders
  • Tends to take longer due to less exposure

I also told him that while he’d save thousands of dollars in commissions as a For Sale By Owner (FSBO), he’d have to tackle the paperwork on his own, including the residential sales contract, the residential property disclosure, and, if the house was built before 1978, the lead-based paint addendum.

And that’s just the beginning of the document list: there’s also the occupancy agreement, which explains when the seller moves out and the buyer moves in, and any offer and counteroffer forms used during the process. While he certainly stood to make a greater profit at the end of the transaction, for inexperienced sellers, handling the paperwork alone can mean unexpected problems all throughout the process.

Additionally, handling the glitches that come up during a real estate transaction often requires finesse, negotiation skills, and experience. Because your buyer is likely to be represented by a professional, you’ll be working with someone who could potentially have decades of experience in the real estate field, and there’ll be aiming to get the best deal for their client. And without access to an agent’s network, marketing the property rests entirely on the shoulders of you, the seller. Going the way of the FSBO—even for an experienced seller—can be a very tough road.

Using a Licensed Realtor

Another option for James was to follow the traditional route, list his home with a local realtor, and have them handle the whole process. That would mean that he wouldn’t have to deal with marketing the property, writing any of the contracts or other documents, or overseeing the escrow requirements, of which there are many.


  • The realtor takes care of all paperwork and disclosures
  • They understand the nuances of the escrow process
  • All marketing is done by the realtor
  • More thorough exposure both on- and offline and access to tools like multiple listing services (MLS)
  • Access to and relationships with other necessary professionals involved in aspects of escrow, titles, and inspections


  • Commissions run 5-6% of the sales price
  • Potential to get stuck with an inexperienced or distracted agent
  • You are subject to the realtor’s schedule for showing your property
  • Don’t know if or when your home will sell

Sellers who don’t use a real estate agent have to do the work of finding an escrow professional, and that starts with deciding whether to choose one who is “licensed” or one who is “controlled.” Because they’re regulated by a number of different entities, that can be quite a task for sellers who are inexperienced in the real estate market.

And don’t forget those disclosure documents I mentioned earlier. They’re required by California law and they sometimes come with area-specific requirements. Having a real estate agent means they take care of that part, which assures compliance and keeps all parties out of trouble. In this respect, having a real estate agent does give some peace of mind over FSBO. However, homeowners who do this also have to pay a commission of 5-6% of the selling price to the agents in order to get it sold. With an average San Diego selling price of $515,000, that could mean an additional $30,000 in commission fees.

Direct Sale to Sell Your House Direct

The final option that I explained to James was to sell his house direct, to us.


  • No commissions
  • No fix up or repair costs
  • No open houses or showing requests
  • Close when you want
  • 7-day escrow and immediate receipt of funds


  • A cash offer won’t be as high as what you could ask on the traditional market
  • You miss out on the chance of a bidding war between potential buyers raising the price further

Instead of selling the home himself or hiring a realtor to do it for him, we would purchase the home directly, which would save him time and aggravation as well as make the process fast, easy, and stress-free. He could make the best of a bad situation by saving thousands of dollars in selling commissions, avoiding repair and marketing costs, and having the transaction completed very quickly. This would also allow him the time to continue looking for a new job instead of worrying about advertisements, showings, paperwork, and wondering when or if his home would even sell.

So what happened to James? Well, he did what many sellers do—he tried unsuccessfully to sell his home on his own as an FSBO for about three weeks, with no luck and no legitimate offers. He then decided to have to Sell Your House Direct buy his property from him and get his life moving on again. If you’ve recently found yourself in a tough life situation, get in touch so we can talk you through your options and help you find the one that will get you and your life back on track.


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