Cristine Clark, owner of Realty Executives in Vista, cites several factors for her firm's strong sales pace since 1997.
"When it comes to marketing a home, we can't leave any part of the package on the table," said Clark, who's been in North County real estate since 1978.
"We use a company that puts our listings online in Zillow, on Facebook, YouTube and a lot of other sites," Clark said. "Door-knocking still works. So do open houses. One of my agents just sold one of my listings for $950,000 through an open house. That's a big sale for us in this area. But he put up 30 signs and really went for it, and it worked.
"And even with the Internet, newspapers are still a great listing tool because sellers like to see their house in print."
Another factor is the area Clark has chosen to specialize in: Vista, Oceanside, Carlsbad, San Marcos and Escondido. "We're still affordable, and that's what makes it a little easier sometimes to sell in North County," she said.
To help the office grow, she partnered last year with Realtor Jamie Gilman to form a team within Realty Executives. The team's sales totaled $44 million last year.
The average single-family-home sales price for their four buyer's agents is $350,000 to $400,000, although they sold a condominium unit recently for $235,000.
"We did have a great 2013 and we're definitely looking for 2014 to top that," Clark said.
"It started off as the best January we've had in a long time. I do believe it's going to be a strong real estate market. I think that even though prices going up are based on a lot of factors, we don't want them to go up based on a false economy, because that's where we always fail.
"There's probably still room for the gentle type of price increase that we know for years that made a lot more sense than a big jump. But if interest rates go up a lot, that's going to affect part of the recovery," she said.
Clark has advice for new and move-up buyers who hope to take advantage of the current favorable market: "Select a good buyer's agent to help you and get a good relationship going. We don't have our buyers sign contracts. I don't like the concept because I think a buyer might sign with a nonproductive agent who isn't helping them.
"We're supposed to be an industry that helps people," Clark said. "We like them to be loyal, but we want them to be loyal because we're doing a good job for them."