Archive for January, 2010
Tuesday, January 26th, 2010
Got teens? On Friday, January 30, 2010 the City of Carlsbad will be hosting the Teen Scene event at the Calavera Hills Community Center from 4-9 p.m. This is a great opportunity for your teen to hang out with other like-minded kids and have some fun too. Tickets are on sale now for $5 by going to http://classweb.ci.carlsbad.ca.us/Activities/ActivitiesDetails.asp?ProcessWait=N&aid=1442. They will be $8 at the door.
The main event consists of the “Carlsbad 2010 Battle of the Bands Champion,” as eight teen bands will battle in the video game room using Rock Band and Guitar Hero. There will be a teen art exhibit and film festival as well, with all entries created by local teens. Karaoke, slam board art and Dance Dance Revolution will provide fun for everyone. Food, drinks and other merchandise will be provided at an additional cost.
To submit artwork and short films, please visit the website above to be directed to a submission form and get the requirements. All forms must be submitted by January 28. For more information please visit the website above and have fun!
Friday, January 22nd, 2010
The FHA has announced it is to make changes that will provide easier access to home ownership for borrowers and strengthen its reserves, allowing it to better manage risks. The changes are expected to go into effect this spring and early summer. They include:
1. Increase the mortgage insurance premium (MIP). The goal is to bring back private lending, which will offer more choices to borrowers. At first the upfront MIP will be raised to 2.25%, with a request to raise it to maximum levels allowed by the legislature. Upon authorization the MIP premiums will then shift to the annual MIP. The benefit to the consumer will be an increase in capital reserves, as the annual MIP will be paid over the life of the loan in lieu of being paid at closing time.
2. Update the FICO score and down payment requirement for new borrowers. To qualify for the FHA’s 3.5% down payment program a new borrower would have to have a minimum FICO score of 580. A lower score would require a down payment of at least 10%. To put it simply, the riskier the borrower the higher the interest rate and down payment needed to secure a loan. This change would take effect in early summer.
3. Seller concessions would be reduced from 6% to 3%. Doing so will prevent inflated appraisal issues.
4. Increase enforcement of FHA lenders. There are several measures included to keep lenders in compliance.
There will also be a moratorium on the 90 day anti-flipping rule. This rule stated that investors had to wait 90 days after purchase of a property before they could place it for sale on the market. The problem with this rule is that it ended up affecting average home buyers too, who did not have the opportunity to purchase homes bought by investors until the waiting period expired. Investors need to sell these properties quickly. There are some further details involved, so if you would like that information please let me know and I will get it for you.
Michael Mekler of Benchmark Mortgage, who is an FHA lending specialist, says that there is a silver lining in all these changes: “The increase in PMI will offset losses already incurred by HUD, and not decrease the volume of FHA borrowers. The lifting of the 90-day rule gives FHA borrowers a better chance of being able to buy a rehabbed home.” Mekler believes that even with the increases in MIP, FHA loans will still be a popular choice amongst borrowers. For more detailed information on the new rules you can contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org or call toll-free to 1-888-218-0094.
Monday, January 18th, 2010
If you are a resident of the beautiful Aviara area of Carlsbad, and especially if you have children that attend either Aviara Oaks Elementary or Aviara Middle Schools, you need to be aware of a very important issue that could impact the quality of life in the area, not to mention have an enormous effect on school traffic. Please attend the meeting on January 26 at 7 p.m., at Tri-City Wellness off El Camino and Palomar Airport Road.
The City of Carlsbad is considering a zoning change that will allow the construction of 500 high-density housing units in the middle of Aviara, 76 of which will be adjacent to Aviara Middle School. It will include a semi-commercial complex as well. Entitled PonteBello, 75 affordable housing units out of the 500 units will be built off of Ambrosia Lane, DIRECTLY north of the middle school. Friends of Aviara, a local citizen group, has pointed out that the notice of Project Application is erroneously placed 3/4 of a mile from the actual site of construction on Ambrosia Lane.
Now, if you are like me and have children at the middle or elementary schools, you know how difficult the traffic situation is already. Friends of Aviara project that the traffic flow will increase by approximately 150 vehicles daily. The builder will be completing the expansion of Poinsettia Lane as well–the last 1/4 mile stretch between El Camino Real and just East of Poinsettia Lane. Once this is completed Poinsettia will become a major thoroughfare between I-5 and El Camino (and beyond). If the project is completed off Ambrosia both the street and the schools will be frontage to a passageway between Aviara Parkway and Poinsettia Lane…this is detrimental to all the children who walk to and from school every day, especially at drop off and pick up time.
Please go to the website and sign the petition. http://friendsofaviara.org/. Click on “Petition” at the top. Our school children and our community do not need this…please support enforcement of current zoning laws.
Saturday, January 16th, 2010
The impact of last week’s earthquake in Haiti will be felt for years to come. Not only is it terribly sad to see all the images on television and read about the struggles that the residents of Haiti are now facing, but as with many disasters it makes people want to reach out to help.
Here are some great ways you can help make a big difference:
1. Hand Me Downs for Haiti: Bring all your gently used clothes and shoes to either the House of Blues in San Diego or the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach. This collection effort is run by Good Friends United. House of Blues is accepting donations through Sunday night, and the Belly Up is taking them through Tuesday, February 19.
2. Soles for Souls Shoe Drive: Sport Chalet is also accepting gently used shoes for men, women and children. You can call your local store or visit their website for more information. http://www.sportchalet.com/.
3. Text Donations: Many people have already done so, but it doesn’t hurt to pass this one along again…please tell your friends. You can text $10 or $5 donations to help Haiti. Either text “Haiti” to 90999 to donate $10 (through the Red Cross), or text “Yele” to 501501 to donate $5 (you can do this up to six times). These are both legitimate sites and have been endorsed by CNN.
4. Help the orphan children of Haiti: I was especially touched to see the reports on the orphan children whose orphanage was destroyed. They have nowhere to go and although many of them were in the process of being adopted from familes outside of Haiti, the paperwork was destroyed in the earthquake. Many government workers familiar with these cases were killed as well. I am looking into ways to help get those children out of Haiti, but for now PLEASE help by calling or writing Congress people, Senators, County adoption agencies, the UN. If anyone finds out information on where we can call or write to expedite this effort please post a comment. Please also post comments on any other ways we can help locally. Thank you.
Saturday, January 16th, 2010
If you are a Carlsbad resident you need to be aware of a very important issue that could impact your property values and quality of life for many years to come. There is a proposal to build a new power plant on the existing power plant site on the coast just north of Tamarack Avenue on Carlsbad Blvd. The California Energy Commission will meet in February 1 and 2 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Carlsbad. Public comment begins at 6 p.m. on both days.
For those who are unaware, there has been a bitter battle over replacing the existing plant with a new plant. Many local residents and Village and beach lovers oppose this idea and are in favor of building the plant further inland, away from the coast (as the plant no longer needs salt water to run, which was the reason it was built by the coast originally, many years ago). Doing so would save the coastal land and allow for other uses, prevent pollution along the coast (it is estimated the new plant will increase pollution 10 times the current rate), prevent an eyesore (the current tower would be overshadowed by two 14 story towers and multiple industrial structures) and prevent potential danger from having a power plant so close to Interstate 5. The City of Carlsbad is opposed to the new plant as well.
Please view the video to get further information on the proposed changes and please attend the February meetings if you want to voice your opinion. Let’s keep Carlsbad the pristine beach town that it is, and not bring more pollution and ugly industrial plants to coastal property.
For more information from the City on the proposed power plant please go to http://bit.ly/92USKj.
Wednesday, January 13th, 2010
On Tuesday, January 12 the Carlsbad City Council was presented the Community Vision. This is a plan for the future of Carlsbad and focuses on growth, sustainability, preservation and future planning. It is a very positive step in the collaboration between City officials and residents, and is great news for Carlsbad.
The Envision Carlsbad Program, sponsored by the City of Carlsbad, played a major role in obtaining input from over 7,000 residents via surveys, interviews, workshops and citizens’ committees. The process really focused upon the needs and wants of Carlsbad citizens, and on and continuing to make Carlsbad a wonderful place to live, work and visit.
Topics of interest included maintaining a beach town feel, education, the arts, culture, nature preservation and trails, recreation, transportation, neighborhood revitalization, connectivity, local economy, tourism, livability and sustainability.
The next step in the process will be for the City to compare the residents’ vision to the plans, regulations and policies of the City of Carlsbad. The City will then be able to determine how to effectively incorporate the vision into it’s General Plan. The acceptance is a wonderful indication that the City wants to work with residents and help drive Carlsbad into the future with purpose and fresh ideas. To learn more please visit http://www.envisioncarlsbad.org.
Friday, January 8th, 2010
There are a lot of new and exciting things planned for Carlsbad in the coming year. Here is a sample of those that are currently in the planning stages or are new projects.
Legoland Expansion: As if the recently added Sea Life Aquarium was not enough, Legoland is planning the addition of a 250 room hotel and a 5-acre water park. Both are currently in the planning phases, but the water park is expected to be opened by the 2010 summer season. Both the hotel and water park will be centered around the Lego theme and geared toward families with young children. Legoland attracts visitors from all over the United States and the world every year and brings them to our beautiful city.
Green Dragon Colonial Village: Those of you who have lived in Carlsbad more than 10 years will remember Hadley’s Market on Paseo del Norte, just south of Palomar Airport Road (and their famous date shakes). Well, the good news is that the eyesore that has been sitting vacant for years is finally about to get a new life. The Green Dragon Colonial Village, in the planning phase, will consist of a museum (I believe it will be American History but was not able to get that confirmed), book store and restaurant. I look forward to another place to go with the kids that is entertaining and a learning experience as well.
Carlsbad Paseo: Many of you may have visited the new BJ’s and PF Changs restaurants on Paseo del Norte, just north of Palomar Airport Road and across from the Carlsbad Premium Outlets (if not, they are both terrific and I recommend trying them). The center housing these two eateries is called Carlsbad Paseo, and will soon be home to a series of shops. I was unable to get confirmation on which stores will call Carlsbad Paseo home, as this too is in the planning phase, but will keep you updated when I have further information.
New Senior Fitness Area: There is a new fitness room for 50+ adults at the Carlsbad Senior Center. The 1200+ square foot facility has recently opened and has lots of new equipment, including treadmills, bikes, free weights and circuit training. There is no loud music and softer lighting, plus televisions to watch while exercising. The fees are reasonable and can be purchased on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis or a one-day pass, with no initiation fees. Call 760-602-4650 for information and directions.
As I always say, Carlsbad is such a wonderful place to live–a combination of the best and friendliest people, a plethora of exciting places to visit and eat, beautiful beaches and trails, near-perfect weather and a great location that is close to everything wonderful that the rest of San Diego county has to offer. We are lucky to be here.
Thursday, January 7th, 2010
The County of San Diego has finally received 41,000 doses of the H1N1 virus vaccinations. In a series of five clinics throughout the county residents will be able to get a shot. Although many people think the virus is no longer a problem this is not the case. Doctors say that lately they have seen numerous cases and there have been 786 reported cases of hospitalization due to the flu in the county. My family and I are a perfect example: we had the flu over the holidays and I have to say from personal experience that I have never been more sick in my life. It was a nasty bug…so get vaccinated!
Here are the dates and locations:
Friday, Jan. 8
2 ‚ 8 p.m. – Qualcomm Stadium, 9449 Friars Road, San Diego, 92108
Saturday, Jan. 9
10 a.m. ‚ 2 p.m. – East Valley Community Center, 2245 East Valley Parkway,Escondido, 92027
Friday, Jan. 15
3 ‚ 7 p.m. – Ronald Reagan Community Center, 195 East Douglas Avenue, El Cajon, 92020
Saturday, Jan. 16
10 a.m. ‚ 2 p.m. – Kimball Senior Center, 121 D Avenue, National City, 91950
10 a.m. ‚ 2 p.m. – Westfield Plaza Camino Real, 2525 El Camino Real, Carlsbad, 92008
Friday, January 1st, 2010
In the last weeks of 2009 there were quite a few conflicting stories on the state of the real estate market, and what we might expect in 2010. Several articles claimed that the bottom of the market was reached, that prices were rising and buyers were plentiful. They said this year would be the year the market began to recover.
Other articles (some published simultaneously) claimed that the bottom is not even in sight, that prices will continue to drop, and that because of several key factors (more foreclosures, the end of the homebuyer tax credit in the spring and the probability of rising interest rates this year), the market will not recover soon.
So, who do you believe? It is frustrating to try and decipher the messages in the opposing viewpoints, but one thing is clear: no matter which view you choose to believe, now may be the best time to sell your home to get the best price. Let’s look at the three biggest housing factors that will affect us in 2010 and you will see why.
1. Foreclosures. Many warn that we are on the precipice of another foreclosure iceberg. Option ARM mortgage rates will be adjusting for many homeowners this year, and many will not be able to pay the high mortgages. This could lead to a large number of defaults, as values will be much lower than the amounts owed on the properties. Loan modification programs have not been as successful as intended, and many homeowners will end up walking away from attempts to modify their loans (or the lenders will just give up and issue a foreclosure notice).
2. Homebuyer Tax Credits. The tax credits, which were recently extended and expanded to cover not only first time home buyers, will expire in April 2010. The credit has been a great help to the market and is one of the main reasons buyers have been buying once again. What will happen when they expire? Will buyers still be as willing to shop for homes? Many recent articles claim that the end of the tax credits will devastate the housing market. While I personally disagree with this theory (I think there will be more inventory and those with down payments will be able to get some fantastic deals and utilize negotiating power), if we combine loss of tax credits with a lot of new foreclosure inventory it may not be a jolt to the market. BUT if the job market improves these factors could prove positive for buyers.
3. Rising Interest Rates. Many economists have predicted that interest rates will rise in 2010, likely once the tax credits have expired. The Federal Reserve has kept interest rates low for a long time, and this has helped the market to stabilize in many areas, but programs to purchase mortgage-backed securities (which have kept the rates low) will end in March.
If the rates rise, will homes still sell? No tax credit, higher mortgage rates, and the possibility of many lender-owned properties on the market….this may not be good news, nor provide any incentives to buyers (who may just choose to sit back, watch the market and wait, creating a big fence sitter syndrome). This is the area where there are a lot of negative predictions, but we also have to keep in mind that on a historical level interest rates will STILL be low even if they crawl above the 6% mark, as some predict.
So…how does this make it a great time to sell? Because NOW the tax credits are still in place, the inventory is still historically low, and rates are low. If you are thinking of selling in the Spring of 2010, you really should consider selling at the beginning of the year while all these factors are in your favor. Chances are you will get a better price for your home before the Spring…something to think about.