New Listing: Upgraded Townhome in San Elijo Hills

July 21st, 2016

LaMar Real Estate is proud to welcome you to 1612 Avery Road, San Marcos. Offered at $489,000.

This beautifully upgraded, bright and open tri-level end unit townhome offers the largest floorplan in the complex, with great amenities and location. Features include a full bedroom and bathroom on the top floor, spacious kitchen with Corian counters and breakfast nook, custom paint throughout, designer tile flooring and carpeting, AC and attached 2 car garage. Gated front courtyard, mature trees and a wonderful community with pool and spa – located in the desirable Morgans Corner complex in the San Elijo Hills town center. Stroll to shopping, dining, parks and schools. 1_8325183_76376_EA-76376-101

Feature Include:

– 3 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, 1740 square feet

– Bright and open floorplan

– Spacious kitchen with Corian counters, black appliances and breakfast nook

– Built-in tv/storage unit in living room

– Tile flooring and upgraded carpeting

8_8325190_76376_EA-76376-108– Attached 2 car garage

– Laundry room on second floor

– Gated front courtyard

– Refrigerator, washer and dryer included

– Category 5 wiring

– Air conditioning

– Ceiling fans

– Community pool and spa

– Award-winning San Marcos Elementary and Middle Schools blocks away 12_8325192_76376_EA-76376-112

– Walkable community – shopping, dining, schools, groceries, parks, trails

– Thousands of acres of trails and open space

– Community parks, sports fields and dog park

For more information and photos, and to view a virtual tour, please click here. To schedule a showing or for questions, please call Broker Rachel LaMar at 760-310-9466. CA BRE lic# 01399682.

Open Sunday, July 24, 2016 from 1:00-4:00.

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New Carlsbad Listing – Upgraded Condo Close to Beach!

July 14th, 2016

Welcome to 870 Ginger Avenue, Carlsbad

Offered at $449,000

Fabulous upstairs corner unit condo in coveted southwest Carlsbad, filled with upgrades and natural light, with a large patio to enjoy ocean breezes. Enjoy thick plank bamboo flooring, custom paint, wood blinds, granite kitchen tile counters, beautiful ceramic tile shower and remodeled bathrooms, upgraded fixtures. Move-in ready! See supplement for more. 1_8314290_76011_bpo-_76011-101

Welcome to the coveted neighborhood of Carlsbad Crest. This home is turn key, with upgrades galore. Enjoy outdoor relaxation and ocean breezes from a spacious patio that has just been redone. The beautiful tree-lined complex features 2 community pools/spas, and just a short distance to shopping, dining and the beach. One covered parking space plus large storage closet come with the home, as well as the washer, dryer and refrigerator.

8_8314300_76011_bpo-_76011-108 Features Include:

  • 2 bedrooms, 1.5 baths
  • Bamboo wide plank flooring
  • Granite tile kitchen counters
  • Upgraded kitchen with recessed lighting, refrigerator included
  • Custom paint throughout
  • Wide baseboards
  • Wood blinds
  • Large patio recently redone
  • Remodeled bathrooms with ceramic tiled shower 12_8314307_76011_bpo-_76011-112
  • Laundry closet with washer and dryer included
  • Covered carport space and large storage closet
  • Bright and open floorplan
  • Updated fixtures and lighting
  • Beautiful complex with 2 pools/spas and green areas
  • Less than 1 mile to shopping, dining and beach
  • No mello roos
  • Carlsbad Schools

For more information please click here. For questions or to schedule a showing please call Broker Rachel LaMar at 760-310-9466. CA BRE lic 01399682

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Can You Fire your Real Estate Agent if You’re Not Happy with Them?

July 12th, 2016

Recently I was contacted by home sellers who wanted to talk to me about their home sale – they were in escrow with another agent and were very unhappy. There were some legal issues and the agent was non-responsive and not representing them to the best of her ability. They had no idea that they may be able to fire the agent, so I thought it was a good idea to again share this tidbit with all the sellers and potential sellers out there – and also for buyers.

If you are a seller who is unhappy with your real estate agent, you may have the right to cancel your contract in the state of California if the agent is not adequately representing you. There are a few things to keep in mind though, as you make your decision:

1.  Contractual Breach or Valid reason – If your agent is not representing you to the best of his/her abilities, your first step should be to contact the broker. You need to explain your concerns and desire to cease working with the agent. If you cannot agree to a mutual cancellation, you may need to prove that the agent is not performing her/his contractual duties or doing their due diligence (does not call you, does not explain paperwork or provide details on the sales process, etc.) or provide some other valid reason to cancel. Brokers may want to try to resolve the issue first, or may want to personally step in to make sure you are well cared for during the remaining time the contract is in effect. Check over your contract to make sure you understand specific duties and can show they are not being done. th

2. Mutual consent – this is an easy way to cancel a contract with a broker/agent – say your circumstances have changed and you no longer will be moving – most brokers will allow a cancellation at that point (no one wants to market a home that will not sell).

3. Legal termination – if you have tried everything above and the broker/agent will not consent to a cancellation, you may need to seek a legal remedy to cancel your contract. Check your contract to see if there is a legal remedy specified therein, like mediation and arbitration. If not, seek the guidance of a real estate attorney.

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There are some other things you need to keep in mind when considering canceling a contract with your broker/agent:

1.  Agent may be entitled to commission for prior showings: If a buyer came along while the contract was in place and they make an offer after it has been canceled, the agent may have a right to a commission. You need to check the language on the listing agreement and see how long this period will be in effect. On the California Residential Listing Agreement this is a fill in the blank – most agents will write 30 days but make sure. This can apply to prospective buyers to whom the agent showed the property, or those who saw it with another agent.

2. Costs and Fees – Check your contract to make sure that you will not be liable for any costs and fees to the agent if you cancel the contract. Brokers or their agents would have to specify such in the agreement and most do not, but make sure you know if you will be liable for any.

3. Marketing materials will not convey. Any marketing materials procured by the broker – photographs, flyers, advertising, etc., are the property of the broker. If you start all over with another broker/agent you will have to start all over with marketing as well (unless the prior agent agrees to let you use their materials, but that is doubtful if you are firing them.

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My best advice is to make sure when you are entering into these contracts that you have a way out if you are not happy with the service provided. I tell ALL my potential clients that they can fire me at any time, so long as they first communicate with me any unhappiness so I can try to rectify it. But I would never force a client to remain under contract terms if they are unhappy – I don’t want anyone to be unhappy because that not only makes me feel bad but also affects my business.

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Growing Housing Inventory Will Affect Buyers and Sellers

June 28th, 2016

Attention home buyers and sellers: home inventory is growing. Over the last few years we have seen decreased inventory in many areas, including here in San Diego County. This has made it tricky for many buyers as supply has not met demand, but has been positive for sellers as the seller market picked up speed. But inventory appears to be growing and there are many extenuating circumstances that make now a good time to sell or buy real estate. 0

Home ownership holding period – Over time most homeowners have tended to occupy their homes on the average for about 6-7 years before selling. But over the last few years this number increased and many sellers were staying in their homes 9-10 years due to economic factors. However, there  has been a trend downward lately due to equity increases and market conditions.

Equity – The last few years have brought equity gains to many homeowners, and low interest rates make it a great time to buy – this combination is positive news for housing. But like any market there will be a correction in time, where equity stops rising as quickly. Here in San Diego County we are starting to see slight slow downs with sales – sales prices are dropping slightly and many homes are sitting on the market longer.

Seller Market – It has been a seller’s market for some time now, due to lack of inventory in many housing markets, combined with a healthy  demand. but with external changes on the rise more sellers will likely consider selling due to strong market conditions and other economic factors that may make them question how long the equity rise will continue. As inventory increases it may turn into a buyer market so long as demand is still prevalent and supply increases.

Economy –  There are several economic factors that may influence a seller or buyer, and moving forward these will likely play a role in decisions to buy or sell. For buyers, low interest rates and international economic conditions that affect our US economy could play into the decision- making process. As markets are cyclical most buyers and sellers know that low rates will not last forever. The looming Presidential election could also factor into housing, as well as international situations like Brexit and terrorism.

The bottom line is that no one has a crystal ball. Many predictions abound and feeding into them can make a buyer or seller crazy. Each individual has to consider their own factors – equity, supply, prices, external and personal economic factors. Talk to your accountant and an experienced real estate professional – but don’t wait too long because the market will change at some point.

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Home Sellers, List Agents Beware: Lockbox and Home Break-ins on Rise

June 17th, 2016

There seem to be a a slurry of lockbox break-ins and subsequent home break-ins or attempts lately in the San Diego County area, so if you have a home for sale or are a listing agent, please read on so you can be informed and safe. th

Several agents – including myself – have reported lockbox break-ins or attempted break-ins within the last few months. One agent group to which I belong had multiple agents telling stories of lockbox thefts, with subsequent break-ins or attempts. It seems there is a pattern: the thieves come in the middle of the night and use power tools to break the lockbox off doors or pipes. They then take it and return with the key the following day to attempt home robbery.

One agent reported that her seller noticed in the morning as he was leaving for work that that lockbox had been cut. He stayed home and had a locksmith come immediately to change the locks – the thief/thieves returned later that day and attempted to access the home, but luckily were unable to do so – they decided not to use another lockbox.

Another agent said her lockbox had been cut and the thieves returned and stole an oven from the home.

Last month my sellers heard someone tampering with their lockbox between 2-3 AM (Mrs. Seller happened to be up nursing the baby); when Mr. Seller ran to the door and opened it the thief jumped in his waiting car and sped away. We removed the lockbox.

I spoke with the Carlsbad Police Department and they have not had any reports of this from agents or homeowners. I encouraged my clients to report their incident when it happened, but they did not get a description of the man, nor could they tell the make or model of the vehicle or license plate number – it all happened so fast – so they did not report it. The police department recommended not using lockboxes.

After reading the other agent stories a few days ago I removed a lockbox from a listing of mine and made showings by appointment only. Obviously this is an inconvenience for buyer agents, because they and I have to find mutually available times to meet, but it is better that my sellers are protected.

Keep in mind that real estate lockboxes are very well-made and are supposed to be break-in proof, according to the local Realtor association, but with battery operated power tools it is obvious that this is not the case. Never use contractor lockboxes, as these are much more flimsy and easier to break open. Either way, if you are a listing agent or seller you may want to consider this information and decide how to proceed.

If you are an agent please let me know if you have a similar story to share – and please report it to your local police department. This effects our business and our clients…hopefully there will be a way to stop it from happening that will not inconvenience home sellers and agents.

 

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New Exquisite Luxury View Listing in Carlsbad

June 9th, 2016

Welcome to 1628 New Crest Court in Carlsbad, Offered at $1,479,000. 6_8268498_74484_EA-74484-104

Pure luxury abounds in this exquisite new construction Carlsbad home, situated on the end of a cul de sac with gorgeous easterly sunrise, canyon and mountain views, and only minutes to the beach. This stunning home has it all, with impeccable attention to detail – hardwood flooring, plantation shutters, stainless top of the line appliances, silk granite and quartz counters, French doors, complete landscaping, and much more, on an 8800+ square foot view lot that is adjacent to open space.

7_8268495_74484_EA-74484-105Features include:

– 5 Bedrooms (one downstairs), 4.5 baths, 4234 square feet

– 8816 square foot private lot

– End of cul-de-sac view lot – canyon and mountain easterly views

– Open floorplan with 9-10 foot high ceilings throughout

– Hardwood flooring downstairs and designer carpeting upstairs

– Enormous kitchen with oversized satin finished granite island

– Quartz kitchen counters and custom full-height tiled backsplash

– Satin white cabinetry with soft close in kitchen

– Stainless Dacor (Bosch-quality) appliances, including 3 ovens and 6-burner stove

– Butler pantry, large walk-in storage pantry and breakfast nook 30_8269020_744841_EA-74484-120

– Spacious family room with fireplace and folding doors to bring the outdoors inside

– Master & powder bath Marble countertops with tile and wood floors

– Cultured marble and tile backsplash in laundry room, and all other baths

– Outdoor covered loggia

– Upgraded fixtures and lighting

– Downstairs bedroom and bathroom with French doors

– Recessed lighting in all rooms

– Instant water heating in Kitchen and Master bathroom

– Rannai tankless water heaters

34_8269022_744841_EA-74484-122– Plantation shutters and vertical blinds

– Heat & Glo Fireplace

– Goodman A/C

– Lift master garage door openers

– Rainbird sprinkler system with auto humidity control

– Master bedroom balcony and Juliet balcony in front

– Mission Drywall Texture

– Front courtyard

– Fully landscaped and hardscaped

– Carlsbad Unified School District

– Close to shopping, dining, parks, beaches and highways

For more information and photos please click here. Or call agent Rachel LaMar for a private showing at 760-310-9466.

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Stunning Carlsbad Cul-de-Sac Home For Sale

June 3rd, 2016

Welcome to 1734 Cereus Court in Carlsbad! Offered at $889,000, this gorgeous 1869 square foot, 4 bedroom, 3 bath home sits on an almost 9000 square foot lot adjacent to the Batiquitos Lagoon. 3_8260614_74505_EA-74505-103

Upgraded and TURN-KEY and located in the coveted Seaport neighborhood of South Carlsbad, this home is the epitome of the Carlsbad lifestyle. Remodeled throughout with custom cabinetry, granite counters, stainless appliances, double oven, large kitchen island, hardwood flooring, custom paint, new windows and doors throughout, Plantation shutters. Single story living plus large loft and master suite upstairs. Spacious, private backyard with built-in kitchen and huge seating counter, hot tub and lovely garden, and much more!

12_8260621_74505_EA-74505-112• Upgraded kitchen with granite counters, custom fixtures, large island and skylight

• Top of the line stainless appliances including large refrigerator and double oven

• Hardwood flooring and custom tile

• Newer doors and windows throughout, including French doors

• Stunning travertine tile bathrooms

• Venetian plaster walls

• Custom paint throughout 9_8260622_74505_EA-74505-109

• Plantation shutters

• Large yard with built-in BBQ and seating area, hot tub, garden

• Gated front courtyard with fountain

• Enormous upstairs loft and second master suite addition

• Reverse osmosis system

• Downstairs master converted to granny flat with bath, kitchenette (easy to convert to interior bedroom)

33_8260632_74505_EA-74505-133• RV parking

• Carlsbad School District

• Close to shopping, dining, movies, post office, schools, parks, resorts, beaches

• No HOAs or mello roos!

For more information please click here. To schedule a showing please contact broker Rachel LaMar at 760-310-9466. CA BRE Lic # 01399682

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6 Types of Monkey Business Going on in Real Estate Now

May 23rd, 2016

If you are a real estate agent or a home buyer you may notice that the market is obviously low on inventory right now. Being that it is the “selling season” of Spring/Summer, and since there are a lot of buyers out there looking at homes, there are many situations involving multiple counter offers and homes selling for well over asking price…all great if you are a seller. However, there are also some fishy things going on out there and it is frustrating to agents and their buyers. th

Let’s take a look at what is happening:

1. Homes listed well over comparable value. Many, and I mean a LOT, of homes in North San Diego are being listed over market value – some slightly and some way over. Buyers, who normally would avoid such homes until the price drops, are flocking to them and making offers anyway. No one seems concerned that the home likely will not appraise, and if one buyer walks there are many more who will step right in. This is pricing out first time homeowners and bringing prices up…you may think the latter is good, but it is dangerous because such inflation could create problems for the market – especially when there are many buyers who have incomes that will price them out of neighborhoods they should have been able to afford had prices reflected comparable sold values.

2. Many sellers are taking a long time to respond to offers – even very strong ones. If a buyer makes a very strong offer over asking price, many listing agents are waiting for 4 or 5 days to even respond, during which time they collect more offers. Many then submit multiple counter offers to all bidders asking for the best and highest price. This prices many potential buyers out of the running, and most already submitted an offer slightly over their budget.

3. Sellers are refusing to make repairs or pay for reports. In a seller’s market the seller knows s/he is in the driver’s seat, and many sellers are countering back stating the home is sold as is, and that they will make no repairs and pay for no reports – like termite reports. They want the cleanest offers possible with the least amount of money out of pocket. This means the buyer can get stuck with multiple repairs, termite work, etc. If the buyer is already paying top dollar for the home, s/he has to make sure those things are affordable. No one wants to see a new foreclosure wave hit in a few years.

4. Appraisals are not coming in at contract value – but that is not deterring sales. I have not had problems with appraisals on listings (I don’t market properties in the “insane” price category), but have heard from many agents who have. Even if the home does not appraise at contract value, there are plenty of buyers who are willing to pay the difference in cash if sellers will not negotiate prices down to the appraised value. They feel that is the only way to secure a home purchase in these crazy times. Does this sound like 2003/2004 – “pre-crash” – to anyone else besides me?

5. Overly aggressive listing agents seem to be multiplying, and they are not being cooperative. There are many listing agents who are ruthless and even rude. They don’t care that your buyers love the home and have been looking in that neighborhood for a long time, or that they wrote a very strong offer and submitted it first. To these agents, it’s all about playing the game and finding the highest bidder. Some agents do not return calls and emails, and some violate the Realtor code of ethics – a few may even commit fraud. It is extremely frustrating for buyer’s agents, who are trying to find a home for their well-qualified buyers.

6. Pocket listings and homes listed “off the MLS” are increasing. Many agents are marketing their listings on third party sites like Zillow, and not placing them on the MLS – the cooperative tool used by Realtors to benefit all parties looking in particular areas/price ranges. While it is their right to do so, it makes a problem for buyer’s agents whose clients may see these listings and want to visit them – but when their agent calls the listing agent to make an appointment she is often told that the seller is not paying a commission to buyers’ agents. Imagine you have been helping your buyers for months to find a home and now you cannot show them this one home because the broker will not cooperate with your broker. It puts buyer’s agents – who play an imperative role in protecting buyer’s rights – in a very sticky situation. You may ask why listing agents do this: the answer is so they can find buyers who will work with them, thus saving the seller from paying out a commission to the buyer’s agent. Hopefully the California Supreme Court will soon put an end to double ending sales and this will no longer be a problem.

I am a bit concerned and hope that we are not heading into trouble in the real estate market. I hope that agents keep in mind the spirit of cooperation that is inherent in our business – we all need to work together and be fair. If we do not then buyers and sellers will not be protected from future lawsuits, and many people will be priced out of the housing market – which could cause a domino effect with local economies and eventually the US economy.

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Real Estate Agents Need More Rules

May 17th, 2016

There are too many mistakes made by real estate agents – some come from a true lack of understanding of the legalities that are inherent in buying and selling real estate, and others from ignorance, selfishness or stupidity. But either way the fact is that real estate agents need more training and licensing requirements should be much stricter. images

I was contacted last week by a lady who felt she had been taken advantage of by her current agents. They failed to inform her about the process of accepting a particular tricky offer, and the ramifications associated with doing so, in order for her to  make an informed decision on whether to accept the offer. They did not explain many other things she had the right to know. She was beyond frustrated.

The reason this home seller called me is that she had been referred to me, and liked my legal background – she wanted to fire her agents and have me list the home. I counseled her on the terms of her listing agreement, and provided options and advice; in the end I told her she should try to resolve issues with her current agents so that she could get her home sold since they had already done so much work, while renegotiating some terms and making clear that she needed to be kept in the loop throughout the process. She said she felt much better after speaking with me, and I was glad to help.

The listing agent team she was working with is seasoned, so I was rather surprised that they did not provide information and explanations on many of the forms and processes that come with selling a home. They also charged a 6% commission fee, and they offered 2.5% commission to the selling agent, so they were planning to make 3.5% on the sale! She tried to negotiate with them but they would not do so. She was told that was standard and she had no idea that commissions are negotiable. But I am more disgruntled with other aspects of the sale that I feel were not handled properly.

It is time our national, state and local associations set up mandatory training programs for every agent, and license renewal programs that touch on much of that training so that agents are reminded of their professional and legal responsibilities every time they have to renew their license. Here are some suggestions:

1. Real estate exam – this needs to be more difficult and more expensive to take – that will keep those out who are only in it because they think they will make a lot of money.

2. Across-the-board mandatory training programs – these need to be implemented for all new agents – every broker must comply. This will ensure that all new agents have the same degree of basic knowledge about real estate and law, and the practicalities of sales (forms, paperwork protocol, transaction management, etc.).

3. Stricter license renewal requirements – these also need to be addressed, because the license renewal requirements could be more challenging.

4. Stricter punishment for ethical violations and breaking of laws – as the current rules stand in my state, an ethical violation may or may not be punished – it all depends on whether the agent on the other side of the violation, or a disgruntled buyer or seller – reports the behavior. Unfortunately many do not, because they do not want to be involved in a situation where they are pointing a finger. Agents especially do not like to get involved in ethical hearings because they feel their reputation may be at stake for calling out a fellow agent – thus many unethical agents continue to slide downhill. Punishment is also not meted out often enough or enough to match the crime. The same is true of agents who break laws, like committing fraud. Reporting and punishment need to change.

The real estate business would benefit immensely from the above changes – real estate agents would be a more educated, professional and savvy group of people, and home buyers and sellers would win in the biggest way.

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CA Supreme Court to Review Legality of Dual Agency

May 10th, 2016

The California Supreme Court will soon have a chance to review the practice of dual agency, where a broker (either through one agent or two agents who work for the same broker) represents both the buyer and seller in the sale of real property. California is a state that allows this practice, although the California Association of Realtors has penned rules that require full disclosure of such situations to all parties. Nevertheless, when one agent/broker represents both sides of a sale transaction there is a big conflict of interest, and the possibility of misrepresentation and breach of agency duties is highly possible. I have always been against dual agency, but I have represented both buyer and seller in transactions – there are rare situations where the scenario can work effectively. I think it would be better for all sellers and buyers if it were not allowed. images

Here is an example of a typical dual agency dilemma for an agent: If a seller tells his agent something in confidence, say what is his bottom line for an acceptable sales price, and that agent then represents the buyer – who asks what price they should offer on the home – the agent is placed in a very precarious situation. The agent in this example owes a duty to both sides, but how can she answer  her buyer’s question without betraying the seller’s confidence? She knows what the seller will take, but it is her duty to get the seller the best offer possible. Similarly, it is her duty to do her best on behalf of her buyer now, so it puts her in a hard place.

The case at hand stems from a sale of a luxury home in Malibu, in which the buyer (represented by a Coldwell Banker agent) claimed the listing agent (a different Coldwell Banker agent) failed to disclose to him that his home was much smaller in square footage than advertised – this claiming that the price was inflated for the size of the home.

I believe that dual agency should never be allowed unless the broker is also an attorney, and even then I have doubts. After all, it is not allowed with attorneys – could you imagine hiring counsel for the opposing side in a court battle! This is a very sensitive area and many agents do not understand the legalities involved. It will be interesting to see what the court decides.

 

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