Archive for January, 2011

Social Media Etiquette 101

Monday, January 31st, 2011

If you use social media it is imperative you know your manners. So many people write things on Facebook, Twitter and other sites that clearly indicate they did not think before posting. In fact, one of the hardest things to teach our children–the first generation of social media people– is that what you say in cyber space can effect you, even years later. Here are some simple tips to assure your social media manners are in tact.

1. Do not post anything disparaging about yourself or others. There are plenty of stories about people who have lost their jobs or not been hired because of what they post on sites like Facebook. If you got drunk last night or you don’t like your boss, it may not be such a great idea to post these things. Even if your intention is to post something in jest, think about whether it could compromise views of you as a professional. If a co-worker did something unethical and you post about it, you could wind up in trouble legally…it’s called slander. Some of the laws regarding slander and the internet are still evolving and will continue to do so, so be careful if you write about another person. If you even allude to that person (“my boss,” or “the secretary of my company”) that could possibly be slanderous too.

2. Do not use social media as puffery. Social media sites are used by some–those who don’t truly understand their purpose– as a means of self-promotion only. You will quickly lose friends and connections on sites like Facebook and Twitter if the majority of what you post is about you, promotion of your business, or what a great ___ you are. People want good content, not bragging. It is ok to talk about yourself and your business, but make sure to mix it in with a lot of good content–useful information that will make people want to read your posts.

3. Learn the benefits of the different types of social media to make the most of each. Each site is different and realistically, you can post different things on each. For example, I find many people do not understand the benefits of Twitter. I did not when I first created an account over a year ago. But what I have learned since is that Twitter is not a means of getting business so much as it is a means to connect with industry experts and learning from them. It is the content that matters here–you follow those whom you respect or have good content, read their blogs, and hopefully get some great ideas for your business, your blog, etc. This is not the place to post “Call me for the best service,” although there is a time where you can do so (for example, if you are a Realtor and you are promoting a listing).

Another example is Facebook, which is a bit different and can have long comment threads. Feel free to comment on topics but realize that you need to think first. If you make a strong political statement or bash an industry it could come back to haunt you later. I have a good friend who is a recruiter for a big company, and her job is to check all social media sites of an applicant before they are called for an interview. Be careful.

4. Remember what you post is a reflection of YOU and your business. This is perhaps one of the most important pieces of advice (and I have written entire blogs dedicated to it), yet I am constantly amazed at how many people do not use spell check or read through their posts before hitting send. Grammar mistakes, typos and poor use of words reflect that you do not take the time to proof what you write. This is not only unprofessional, but makes it look like you don’t care. Is this the image you want to portray to colleagues and potential clients? It really does not take long to proof-read.

In conclusion, there are things you need to keep in mind that will truly help you to become a social media guru, and learn a lot in the process. Social media is an incredible tool, one that is necessary in today’s business climate. If you use it correctly the benefits will be plentiful. One last mention: if you want to read a great book on just how effective social media can be, why it is so important and how your role plays out, pick up a copy of Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith.

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San Diego’s February Calendar of Events

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

San Diego Museum Month: Half-Off Admission, February 1 – 28

During February, pick up a free Museum Month Pass at San Diego area Macy’s and you (plus 3 guests) will receive half-off admission at 40 of

San Diego County’s greatest museums! From ancient history to futuristic technology, from sublime art to childlike curiosity, families, couples and experts alike will find museums that are as affordable as they are thrilling. Welcome to “Entertainment that has value”. http://www.sandiegomuseumcouncil.org or 619-276-0101

Russian National Ballet Theatre performs Romeo & Juliet, February 4

Based on William Shakespeare’s tragedy, this full-length ballet features music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikowsky, original choreography by Marius Petipa and re-staging by Yuri Vetrov. Performed by the Russian National Ballet Theatre, this company of over 50 dancers is under the Artistic Direction of Elena Radchenko, founder of the company. Location: Balboa Theatre – 868 Fourth Ave @ E St. http://www.sandiegotheatres.org

San Diego Symphony: Vienna Boys Choir, February 4

Winter Pops Special Concert – The world’s most acclaimed and beloved children’s choir presents a memorable program from their repertoire of the greatest works by Haydn, Mozart, Schubert and more. San Diego Symphony does not perform on this concert event. http://www.sandiegosymphony.org

Steel Magnolias, February 4 – March 20

Welcome to Chinquapin, Louisiana, by way of Truvy Jones’ hair salon. This delightful portrait of Southern warmth and claws-out combat will introduce you to Truvy and her unforgettable circle of clients, as it wins your heart. One of the most popular American plays of the last century, Steel Magnolias is hilarious, wise and moving, a perfect fit for San Diego’s award-winning ensemble theatre. http://www.lambsplayers.org

Wings of Gold: Coronado and Naval Aviation, Opening February 4th

Coronado Museum of History & Art. Explores naval aviation’s origins 100 years ago in Coronado, forever changing military history. Includes rare photographs, artifacts and video about the heroes and pioneering events that transpired on the Crown Isle. 1100 Orange Ave, Coronado. 619-435-7242 or http://www.coronadohistory.org

Russian National Ballet Theatre performs Cinderella, February 5

The rags to riches story told through dance as only a classic ballet company could. Watch as the kind Cinderella dances away her troubles and in to the arms of the handsome prince. Performed by the Russian National Ballet Theatre, this company of over 50 dancers is under the Artistic Direction of Elena Radchenko, founder of the company. Location: Balboa Theatre – 868 Fourth Ave @ E St. http://www.sandiegotheatres.org

21st Annual San Diego Jewish Film Festival, February 10 – 20

The SDJFF is part of the San Diego Center for Jewish Culture (SDCJC) at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, JACOBS FAMILY CAMPUS in La Jolla, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. SDJFF aims to educate and illuminate by offering an array of evocative films that depict the international Jewish experience in original, entertaining, and challenging ways never seen before. Please contact JCC Box Office: (858) 362‚1348

Circus Vargas – The Big One is Back in San Diego February 10 – April 11

Circus Vargas presents an entirely new show for 2011, under our Big Top Tent! Arrive early for the free Preview Show, joining Jon Weiss as he invites kids of all ages into center ring to learn juggling, feather-balancing and hula-hooping! Circus Vargas unites amazingly skilled performers with clowns that actually make you laugh – mix in a little sawdust, some spotlights, beautiful music, and the intimacy and excitement of the Big Top and you have the magic recipe – Circus Vargas 2011! Several San Diego locations, including Balboa Park, National City, El Cajon, Vista, and Del Mar. http://circusvargas.com/index.html

Kodo Drummers of Japan, February 11

Exploring the limitless possibilities of the traditional Japanese drum, the taiko, the world famous Kodo Drummers of Japan are forging new directions for a vibrant living art-form. Striving to both preserve and re-interpret traditional Japanese performing arts, the members of Kodo have traveled the globe to bring a kaleidoscope of world music and experiences which exert a strong influence on the group’s performances and compositions. http://www.ljms.org/Series_2010-11/

Centennial of Naval Aviation Celebration, February 12

Coronado’s North Island Naval Air Station and San Diego Bay celebrates the 100th anniversary of naval aviation and the first-ever flight of a Navy aircraft that took place in 1911 in Coronado. The special event includes Navy ship tours, aircraft exhibits, music, food vendors and a large flyover in the afternoon featuring over 200 vintage aircraft. www.navalaviation100.org

San Diego Chinese New Year Fair, February 12 – 13

On Feb. 12 and 13, lion and dragon dancers, martial artists, acrobats and musicians will perform, and food and craft vendors will fill the streets at the intersection of Third Ave. and J St. Inside the museum, we’ll have a delightful array of tea cozies and traditional New Year prints on display as well as a variety of Asian goods for sale. The Year of the Rabbit begins on February 3, 2011, but no matter what animal of the zodiac you are, there will be plenty of fun for the whole family as we celebrate the most exciting Chinese holiday of the year! For more information contact the museum at 619-338-9888, visit our website at www.sdchm.org, or visit the Fair website http://sdcny.weebly.com/.

More That’s Amore, February 13

Spend a romantic Valentine’s Day with your special someone at Oceanside Museum of Art’s More That’s Amore on Sunday, February 13 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Enjoy a unique theatrical performance of classic love songs from operatic arias to Broadway show tunes from local singers while sipping bubbly champagne and noshing tasty appetizers and delicious chocolate confections. Reservations are $25 and $20 for OMA members and can be made by calling 760.435.3721. Do you have a wedding photo or anniversary photo that you would like to share? This year guests can send in a photograph that will be projected in the museum during More That’s Amore to highlight the love shared amongst members of our community. The cost is $5 per photo. Please mail the photo to More That’s Amore, Oceanside Museum of Art, 704 Pier View Way, Oceanside CA 92054 or email a high res 300dpi 5×7 image to Carolyn at cdcarolyn@cox.net. http://www.oma-online.org

The Dinner Detective Interactive Murder Mystery Dinner Valentine’s Day Show! February 14

It is a four-course sit-down dinner in which each guest is allowed to choose their own entree. In between each course of the meal, we have another part of the show. The show is an interactive and improvised comedic murder mystery set in the present day. None of our performers are dressed in costume, but instead are dressed just like everyone else; therefore you do not know who is a part of the show and who isn’t. Throughout the night, murders and mayhem will occur, hidden clues will come forth and our Detectives will help everyone try to solve the crime. In the end, we have a prize package for the Top Sleuth who comes closest to solving the crime. Contact the Box Office today to book your reservation @ http://www.TheDinnerDetective.com or 888-619-0858.

The Wizard Of Oz, February 15 – 20

The entire family will be captivated as they travel down the Yellow Brick Road and beyond with Dorothy, Toto and their friends the Cowardly Lion, Tin Man and Scarecrow in this lavish production, featuring breathtaking special effects, dazzling choreography and classic songs. A spectacular celebration of the iconic 1939 MGM film, The Wizard Of Oz will blow you away from the moment the tornado touches down and transports you to a dazzling art deco Oz, complete with munchkins and flying monkeys. Don’t miss the chance to travel Over the Rainbow and experience this national treasure on stage. Family friendly for all ages. http://www.broadwaysd.com

36th Annual Concert of Philippine Dances and Music, February 26 – 27

The two-hour program staged at the Joan Kroc Theater at 6611 University Ave., San Diego, CA 9115, will showcase Samahan’s rich repertoire in vivid and colorful costumes choreographed by Artistic Director Ruby Chiong. The young, attractive and highly skilled dancers and lively music of the Rondalla and Kulintang Music Ensembles promises a very enjoyable evening. http://www.samahanphilippinedance.com

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From McMansions to Ghost Towns?

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

There has been much attention drawn lately to the fact that many homeowners are opting to downsize, and new buyers are choosing smaller homes. According to several recent articles, gone are the days of the so called “McMansion.” Unfortunately this creates a problem in certain areas where many of these properties were built in the housing boom of the early 2000s.

If the trend is to steer away from these types of homes, what will become of them and their neighborhoods? Could we see a surge in vacant homes in these neighborhoods, bringing back the proverbial ghost town? Some neighborhoods are already partial ghost towns–those that were never completed due to the housing market downturn. Let’s take a look at what could happen if there were less of a demand for big homes:

Substantial price reductions. This could effect neighborhoods by bringing down property values. Furthermore, if these big homes are not attractive to buyers it could lead to …

Vacant homes. Vacant homes in a neighborhood obviously are not appealing , and if they do not sell it may lead to…

More foreclosures. If these homes do not sell, or if subsequent homeowners in these neighborhoods decide they want to move (and are unable to sell their homes), they may not have many options other than to foreclose. If the banks cannot sell them it could lead to…

Neighborhood deterioration. At some point, no matter how low the home prices may drop in our fictional neighborhood, they still may not sell. Even if a large home is reduced to the same price as desirable smaller homes, there is still a hefty maintenance cost in purchasing these large homes (more landscaping, higher utility bills, etc.). If buyers felt they were getting a huge discount they would still have to take this into consideration.

So what are the options?

1. Help from builders. This would be an opportunity for builders to come in and buy the land for cheap, then build more smaller energy efficient homes. But the cost of doing so would be very high, as the current neighborhood would have to be dismantled. Disposal of so much building material is not environmentally advantageous.

2. Multiple family dwellings. The large homes could be subject to minor changes and marketed as multiple family dwellings. This might appeal to people and help to keep maintenance costs down by sharing the fees.

3. Tax reductions. Current homeowners in these homes could be given property tax breaks based on the new value of their homes. This quite possibly might allow them to stay in the home. Maybe a special tax deduction could apply to multiple family dwellings as well—just an idea.

4. Loan modification assistance. This could possibly assist some big home owners to stay rather than move.

5. Bill reduction incentives. Maybe there could be incentives given or city assistance provided to those homeowners who follow steps to reduce their bills. For example, installing drought-resistant landscaping to cut back the water bill, using solar energy to heat the home.

There are likely many other options to be explored. What do you think? Is the ghost town scenario possible, or far-fetched? I am not the first one to consider it so I think it is something to be discussed. I welcome your ideas.

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Move Over Google…There’s a New Player in Town

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Google has been the top search engine for a long time, but may not be so for long. Qwiki has made it’s debut, and while still in it’s beta phase it promises to change the way we search for information.

Qwiki is an interactive platform, which means that it is not centered on entering search terms and then doing a lot of reading to find what you are looking for. Qwiki is visual, it speaks to you (literally), it helps us to learn, understand and connect in a whole new way. For example, if you enter in the subject matter “San Francisco,” you will be presented with a narrative, complete with photos and video, of all San Francisco has to offer. It is deep, information-rich content and it is exciting. The entire search is narrated for you. You can search for everything from “butternut squash” to “pencils” to “Santorini” (see below).

Qwiki allows you to create videos and get embed codes, which you can use on your website. It is truly the future of the internet. Soon it will be available to everyone, but if you want to sign up for Qwiki in it’s beta phase go to http://www.qwiki.com/. Qwiki, like Google, will change the way we all search, learn and do business. Here is an example of what Qwiki can do:

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Why You Should Hold Title in Trust

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Creating a trust could be of the smartest decisions you ever make, in most cases. If you are a homeowner or buyer, or plan to buy, you should consider the benefits of a trust. It is easy to have one created and can prevent problems down the road. To learn more and understand the benefits of holding title in trust read my latest blog at Real Estate and Women (RAW) : http://realestateandwomen.net/2011/01/25/should-you-put-your-home-in-trust/

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Carlsbad to Receive New Oceanfront Resort

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Last week the city of Carlsbad and developers of Carlsbad’s first oceanfront resort celebrated with a ground-breaking ceremony. Perched on a bluff atop beautiful Ponto Beach, the $75 million Hilton Carlsbad Oceanfront Resort and Spa is scheduled to open in 2012. It will join the likes of other world-class Carlsbad resorts, like the Grand Hyatt, La Costa Resort and Spa, and the Carlsbad Sheraton. But this new resort will have the best location of them all, in my opinion.

The hotel will have 215 guest rooms and a 5,000 square foot spa, meeting space, beautiful gardens, and pools with cabanas. Of course, one of the best beaches in North County is only steps away.

This new resort will be just another great reason why Carlsbad is so special! For more details on the resort you can visit the City’s website: http://news.carlsbadca.gov/pr/ca/new-beachfront-hotel-breaks-ground-191236.aspx

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What in the World are “Mello-Roos?”

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011

Mello-Roos taxes are common in many areas of California, so if you are buying a home that is newer you should know what they are. Many people do not understand the purpose behind them, or why they have to pay them; in fact, it is a question many buyers have asked me over the years. Here is what you need to know about mello-roos, in a nutshell.

Definition: Mello-Roos are fees paid by a homeowner that are assessed by the builder. They enable the formation of Community Facilities Districts (CFDs), which provide community funding for public improvements and maintenance. The CFDs decide where the collected money will go.

History: Mello-Roos (named after a Senator and Assemblyman who coauthored the Community Facility Act in 1982, which is now simply referred to as “Mello-Roos”) are assessed by the local CFD. If a new community or a school is planned in your CFD tax exempt municipal bonds are issued to finance the construction.

Benefits: Mello-Roos taxes are used to fund and maintain projects within your community, such as road improvements, traffic lighting, storm sewers, libraries, emergency services and schools. By passing the taxes on to the homeowners the builders can keep the cost of housing lower, and owners benefit from having well-maintained communities.

Payment termination: These bonds are paid off over a period of time, usually 25 years. Once they are paid off the taxes stop. If the home is sold before they are paid off the taxes transfer to the new buyer.

Tax Increase or Decrease: Mello-Roos can only increase at a maximum rate of 2% per year over a 25 year period. It is possible that the tax may also decrease over that time. If state or other funds become available the bond indebtedness can be reduced, which could lower residence tax payments. Although I do not see indebtedness being reduced in California any time soon, keep in mind that it could happen.

How to Pay: There are several ways to opt to pay your Mello-Roos tax bill. It can be added to annual property tax or paid upfront upon the purchase of a new home. The latter option may not make sense unless the owner knows he or she will be living in the home for a long time.

In conclusion, although people may complain about Mello-Roos taxes the benefit to you as a homeowner are plentiful. Think of them as insurance that your community will look it’s best and be a better place to live.

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Buyers and Sellers: Are You in Danger?

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

If you are a buyer or seller of real estate you are probably aware that the possibility exists you and the other party could be represented by the same agent/brokerage (also known as dual agency). You sign forms to this effect when you make an offer on a home or list a home for sale with a brokerage. In fact, many buyers think going directly to the listing agent and having dual representation will get them a “better” deal. This has been a topic of much contention in the real estate industry, but make sure you are aware of the ramifications of dual agency before you dive into one. To learn more click here: http://realestateandwomen.net/2011/01/18/the-dual-agency-dilemma/

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San Diego Voted Best Area for Long-Term Real Estate

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Despite the housing crisis, San Diego was recently named one of the best areas in the nation for long-term real estate. Specifically mentioned were the Carlsbad and San Marcos areas of North County. San Diego, Carlsbad and San Marcos were placed together and voted number 12 of 26 metropolitan areas. The study by the National Association of Realtors, with contributions from Bloomberg’s BusinessWeek, focused on long-term goals, and found that historically homes increase in value over time. Other recent articles have predicted San Diego will be one of the first markets to recover and normalize.

According to the NAR study housing prices have risen about 5.5% yearly since 1968. Despite the 2000-2006 housing boom (when according to Moodys.com prices rose almost 90%), this still holds true. The study sited down markets–such as the current one–as the best times to be purchasing to meet long-term goals. Long term is considered to be at least five years.

The NAR study expects 2011 to be the beginning of normalization in the real estate market. As long as mortgage interest rates stay around 5% sales volume is expected to rise 6% year-on-year, according to NAR’s Chief Ecomomist Lawrence Yun. This is great news for buyers.

If you are considering purchasing property with long-term goals, now is a great time to buy in San Diego county. Feel free to call or email me with any questions. If you are interested in viewing live market data for the North County area, please visit my website at http://www.LaMarRealEstate.org, and click on the “Live Market Data” link at the top of the page. These statistics are updated weekly.

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Facebook vs. Twitter for Real Estate

Saturday, January 15th, 2011

Lately there has been a lot of discussion on which is “better” for Realtors and those involved with real estate: Facebook or Twitter? Many blogs and articles have voted Facebook as the more significant choice of the two. I submit that it is worth examining them both, as they offer different benefits.

Facebook is the quintessential way to stay in touch with friends and people you know. For Realtors it offers more benefits. You can connect with clients and colleagues, and it is a great way to keep in touch with everyone. You do have to be careful about how you use Facebook, though, because it should not be used as a marketing tool. Well, let me rephrase that: you don’t want to use Facebook to tell people to send you referrals, or to brag about what great service you provide. If you do this you will see your friend list diminish.

So, how CAN you use Facebook? Think of it as a way to show your personal side to all your connections, just like you do with friends. Create lists so you can send important information to clients and colleagues.

Where should you post business information? Create a Facebook business page. This is where it is ok to post business articles, blogs, videos and important information about your industry and what you are up to. You can post a link to your page on your Facebook page, asking people to “like” your business page. This is a fantastic way to share great information on a daily basis.

It is obvious that Facebook has some great advantages for sharing information across your sphere of influence. I have received calls from Facebook friends needing real estate advice or assistance, so if you use it correctly it can be a great tool.

What about Twitter? It is important to understand that Twitter is a completely different beast, and many people do not understand this. I have to admit that over a year ago I signed up with Twitter. People started “following” me and I didn’t really understand the significance, so I canceled my account. Now that I am back in the Twitter game and know what it’s about, I have to say that Twitter has changed my business.

Twitter is not about selling yourself, it is about connecting. I have connected with industry leaders, experts, real estate technology gurus and agents all over the globe who are making big changes in our industry. I have learned so much and have come to really respect a lot of the people I follow. I read their blogs and they read mine, we bounce ideas off each other, and I often find great topics to explore further and blog about just from reading Twitter posts. I have made some real friends, and I have also been asked to write for another national blog through my Twitter connections.

The bottom line is that if you think of Twitter as a personal way to get more educated within your industry and create amazing connections, and not as a way to “get clients,“then you will derive great benefits from Twitter.

Who wins in this contest? Well, I am going to disappoint you but it is a tie. I think you need to use BOTH forms of social media to see a difference. Remember, social media is not really about having the most connections or trying to find clients–it is about establishing yourself as an industry and area expert, or a “Trust Agent” (great book written by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith on this very topic). It is only when you truly understand how to use social media in the right way that you will reap the benefits.

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