Archive for March, 2010

Buyers: Buy Now and You Could Get up to $18,000 Tax Credit!!

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Thanks to an a combination of state and federal laws, you could be eligible for up to $18,000 in tax credits if you are a first time homebuyer, or up to $16,500 if you are a non-first time buyer and meet the requirements. But this is only available for a limited time, so if you are in the market to purchase real estate there has never been a better time. Here are the basic requirements for the tax credit programs:

First time home buyers–dual credits:

1. Purchase must be of principal place of residence

2. Escrow must close between May 1, 2010 and June 30, 2010

3. Up to $10,000 tax credit to first time homebuyers under new California law and up to $8,000 credit under federal law

Purchasers of New Homes (Never Been Occupied):

1. Property must be principal place of residence

2. Can be first time or non-first time buyer

3. Up to $10,000 under California law

New California Law:

1. Applies to purchases that close on or after May 1, 2010

2. Must be first time homebuyer or purchaser of new construction (never been occupied home)

3. Up to $10,000 tax credit

4. Must remain in home at least 2 years post sale or pay back money

To make sure you meet all the eligibility requirements, purchase price restrictions, other restrictions and time frames, please visit for a tax credit chart detailing both the Federal and state initiatives.

You can visit the following sites: IRS–,,id=204671,00.html.

California Franchise Tax Board:

Happy hunting!

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Celebrating Cesar Chavez

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Wednesday March 31 is Cesar Chavez Day. Although not an official day off for most people (some government offices are closed across the state) it is an important day to remember a strong civil rights activist who championed union rights and equality.

Chavez was born in 1927 in Yuma, Arizona. In 1942 he began his career as a farm worker. After serving in the U.S. Navy for two years he joined his first union in 1946–the National Agricultural Workers’ Union. For the next several years Chavez joined other unions, until he was recruited to join an activist group that fought economic and racial discrimination against Chicano residents. This was the beginning of his fight for justice and equality for Chicanos.

In 1958 Chavez helped to organize protests and boycotts in Oxnard, California against unemployment. For the next several decades he went on to organize boycotts and fight for rights for Chicanos, even facing jail time in the fight for his cause, as well as several notorious fasts where he did not eat for many days in protest.

Chavez died in 1993 and was posthumously awarded the U.S. Medal of Freedom by President Clinton. Because of his work laws were created to protect workers in California and prevent discrimination. Chavez is a shining example of the importance of fighting for what it right and making a difference in the world for the better.

On this day we all should think of the men and women who, like Cesar Chavez, continue to fight for our freedom daily.

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Craigslist Rental Scam: Realtors Beware

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

There is a scam running rampant on Craigslist that affects Realtors and their sellers, and my client and I were just the “victim” of such a scam. According to the FBI this scam is run from Nigeria and innocent would-be renters have lost money.

Here’s how it works: the scammers find property listings on Craigslist. They take the words–verbatim–and photos off the agent’s ad and create an ad under home rentals. They create an email account in the name of the home owner (e.g. When people reply to the ad they are sent a rental application and told to submit it with several thousands of dollars to secure the lease. The “seller” notes that he is (conveniently) out of town, but that you can drive by the home. He describes the home and talks about how wonderful it is, and includes a phone number.

In my case I was contacted by a would-be renter who realized things didn’t sound right. The grammar in the email was poor and she trusted her instinct and looked up the address to see if the property was on the MLS. Sure enough, it was and she contacted me about the lease. I told her the home was for sale, not lease. Luckily she did not fall for the scam, but apparently many people have.

If this happens to you it is important that you contact the FBI and your local police department. The FBI has a website where you can file complaints like this…please do so. The site is

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California Homebuyer Tax Credit Extended

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Today Governor Schwarzenegger officially signed an extension for the home buyer tax credit through December 31, 2010. The bill provides $200 million for tax credits, allocating $100 million for first time home buyers (defined as those who have not owned a home in the last 3 years) and $100 million for purchasers of new or previously unoccupied homes.

The requirements for the credit are:

1. The residence purchased must be the buyer’s primary residence;

2. The purchaser(s) must live in the home for at least two years after the sale, or will be required to forfeit the credit to the state;

3. Buyers must be at least 18 years old and unrelated to the seller of the property.

The credit will be assessed at 5 % of the purchase price or $10,000, whichever is less, and will be paid over a three year period. This is great news for home buyers and for the housing market, especially with the spring inventory just starting to arrive on the market. Happy hunting!

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Property Tax Savings for Sellers 55 and Over

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Did you know that if you are over 55 you have an excellent opportunity to sell your home and downsize, while also saving money on property taxes?

There are several propositions in California that allow these sellers to save substantially on property taxes. Proposition 13 was first initiated to prevent drastic increases in property values during the life of ownership, or until ownership changes. Proposition 60 takes this one giant step further and prevents the tax basis from increasing on the purchase of a subsequent replacement home, where the new home is of equal or lesser value. This is allowed only one time.

Here are the requirements:

1. Seller must be at least 55 (if sellers are married at least one must be 55 or older at the time of sale)

2. Home must be the seller’s principal residence and the property purchased must be the new principal residence

3. The replacement home must be purchased no later than 2 years post-sale of the original home

4. Seller must file an application with the San Diego County Tax Assessor.

Keep in mind that this savings is only allowed ONE TIME during the life of the seller. This is a big savings if the sellers purchased the original home years ago and have a low tax basis.

Here is an example: if the homeowners purchased the current property for $75,000 twenty years ago, with a current assessed tax value at about $100,000, the annual tax will be approximately $1,100. Say the current market value of the home is $600,000. If the sellers sell the property and purchase a new home for $600,000 or less they will be able to transfer the taxable value of the original home to the new home–thus keeping their taxes around $1,100. Without the benefit of this rule the tax on the new home would be over $6500. (Thank you to Kevin Kueneke with Primary Residential Mortgage for the example!)

Proposition 90 aids those who want to reap the benefits under Proposition 60 but live outside San Diego County. There are several counties in the state of California that will allow the sellers to transfer the tax basis to a new home within another county. The counties that currently allow this are San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange, Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Ventura.

If you are in the market for a new home and qualify under Prop 60 for the tax savings, now is a great time to go shopping. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need further information.

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Carlsbad Sponsors Free Hazardous Waste Drop Off in April

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

On Saturday, April 17 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., the City of Carlsbad is hosting a free hazardous waste drop off program. In order to participate you must be a resident of Carlsbad (with proof of residency), and must make an appointment beginning March 29. To do so please visit, or call the appointment line at 760-602-7559.

The event will be held at the corner of Orion Way and Impala Drive, and residents may drop off only one carload of waste per scheduled appointment (up to 15 gallons or 125 pounds). If you have more than this you will need to make an additional appointment so as to comply with hazardous waste disposal transport laws (there is a limit as to how much of these substances you can carry in your vehicle).

Acceptable waste includes paint, pesticides and other household cleaners. For a complete list you may visit the City’s website. There are also year-round free drop off centers, one in Vista and one in Oceanside, for your convenience. Addresses and dates are also available on the website.

This is just another way the City of Carlsbad helps it’s residents, and makes Carlsbad a FANTASTIC place to live, work and play!

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The I*M*P*A*C*T of Social Media

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Think social media is just a fad?? You may want to think again. Watch this.

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Loan Modification Credit Woes

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

Loan modifications have become the preferred method of avoiding foreclosure over the last few years. Although many people are unsuccessful in obtaining them, and the government continues to create programs to entice lenders to grant more modifications, there is one aspect that is not often discussed in relation to those who obtain them: credit consequences.

Everyone knows that credit scores suffer after a foreclosure or short sale, but it comes as a surprise to many that the same occurs after a loan modification. After all, it is an agreement with the lender that keeps the borrower in her home and in good standing, with many of those borrowers never having missed a payment. Once the loan modification is complete it is not abnormal to have a 100 point drop in credit scores. Why?

The argument is that the homeowner is trying to do the right thing in modifying the loan, to avoid foreclosure or even a short sale. He or she has typically not missed any payments. So why be penalized? Everyone wins: the homeowner stays in the home and continues to make payments, albeit more affordable ones that reflect current market values. The lender avoids a short sale or foreclosure, losing thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) of dollars in fees and winding up with a vacant property to sell.

The credit rating industry justifies the hit by arguing that only those with financial difficulties seek loan modifications, thus other lenders and those who extend credit need to be aware of that fact.

This issue is just another thorn in the side of the embattled Making Home Affordable Program, which has only helped about 170,000 homeowners (although initially expected to help millions). For those lucky enough to be admitted to the program, there is a three month trial period under which the homeowner makes the new payments. If they are made on time and without any problems the applicant is granted the modification. The credit drop tends to occur during these three months, which could be a problem if the applicant does not qualify and then has to go through a short sale or foreclosure–at that point their credit score would have dropped immensely, with a potential double hit.

All in all this is just another hurdle for the troubled homeowner facing the possibility of not being able to make house payments. Although with a modification the credit score is not hit as hard as with a foreclosure it is still something to be aware of when deciding what to do.

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Beautiful New Listing in Carlsbad!

Friday, March 12th, 2010

I just listed a stunning home in Carlsbad. It is a view home just a few miles from the beach in the gated hilltop community of Mar Brisa. It has 5 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms. The BEST part is that this home is upgraded to the hilt!I am holding an open house this Sunday, March 21, from 1:00-4:00, so come on over and take a look!

Features: Slate flooring downstairs with custom inlays (so beautiful), hardwood upstairs in all bedrooms, granite kitchen counters and oversized eat-in breakfast bar plus large island, Plantation shutters, separate dining room with built-in granite serving buffet, cozy family room with surround sound and monster wiring, vaulted ceilings, open living room with built-in bar area…

The master suite is very large and open with vaulted ceilings, and has exceptional views of the mountains, canyon, rolling hills, golf course, plus peek ocean views. The master bathroom is complete with a slate shower and sunken tub, plus granite counters and a big walk-in mirrored closet. All the bedrooms are well-sized and there is a convenient upstairs laundry room.

One of the biggest selling points of this home is the yard, which is an entertainer’s delight. The owner just completely remodeled it, complete with custom hardscape that has beautiful tiled inlays, raised gazebo sitting area, retaining wall, serene fountain and a stainless barbeque. The foliage is just beautiful and you can literally sit in your yard and really enjoy the outdoors and the incredible views. There is also a grassy area…no expense was spared.

The home boasts a large 3-car garage with tons of storage, and is located on a prime lot directly next to the Olympic sized community pool and spa, so you practically have a pool in your yard without the maintenance!

This home is listed for $799,000 and any or all furniture may be purchased as well. Please contact me for any further information and visit the open house this Sunday from 1:00-4:00. To see the virtual tour visit

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New Government Program May Aid Short Sales

Monday, March 8th, 2010

There is a new program on the horizon that aims to help homeowners who have not qualified with loan modifications become more likely to obtain their lender’s permission for a short sale. This could be big news for many, possibly eliminating millions of foreclosures. The clincher: homeowners could receive a payment in exchange for leaving their homes. Sound too good to be true?

This new aggressive approach stems from a brutal fact: over five million homeowners owe more than their homes are worth and face the possibility of foreclosure. The government, who has formulated other plans to assist with loan modifications, is hoping that this new plan will prove more helpful than it’s predecessors.

Set to roll out April 5, the new program focuses on short sales and getting their approval. Here’s how it works: if a homeowner has tried unsuccessfully to obtain a loan modification from it’s lender the lender will now be compelled to accept a short sale. The lender will be given $1,000. If there is a second lien holder it will be given $1,000. And the cherry on the cake: the homeowner will be given $1500 as “relocation assistance.” In return the lender will agree not to come after the borrower for the difference between the sales price and what was owed on the balance (the capital gains).

Assuming this plan actually works, what are the benefits?

1. Less foreclosures. This is good for neighborhoods and homeowners and the housing market.

2. The homeowners’ credit will not be affected as negatively as if there had been a foreclosure.

3. Chances are that the homes will not be left in such a poor state, since the homeowners get a financial gain from the deal (the $1500).

4. Lenders will save money by not having so many foreclosures on their hands.

5. The housing market will likely benefit, as short sales will no longer take mysterious amounts of time, thus reducing inventory and getting more homes sold.

So, will this one be the one that works and benefits all those parties involved? There are naysayers out there but I sure hope so. It sounds interesting and going after the short sale is definitely better than letting millions of homes go into foreclosure. It is not the cure for the housing woes, but it’s a start. Let’s hope it works.

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