Archive for March, 2011

San Diego April Event Calendar

Thursday, March 31st, 2011
Can you believe April is here? There is a lot to do in San Diego this Spring, so get out there and enjoy!
April 2-3 & 9-10, Escondido Renaissance Faire
The age of chivalry will be recreated among the wonders of nature in an idyllic setting. Activities include several of Will Shakespeare’s new plays, battle pageants, music in the streets, jugglers and hundreds of costumed re-enactors performing in this giant outdoor play.
Time: 10:00 am ‚ 6:00 pm
Location: Felicita County Park, 742 Clarence Lane, Escondido
For more information call 805-496-6036

April 3, San Marcos Spring Festival
The festival route is dotted with over 300 vendor booths. A huge children’s area features rides for children of all ages. The Beer Garden not only includes local microbreweries, but also wonderful food fare from many restaurants of Old California Restaurant Row.
Time: 9:00 am ‚ 5:00 pm
Location: San Marcos, on Via Vera Cruz
For more information visit www.kennedyfaires.com/san-marcos.com

April 5, Padres Opening Day Block Party
This is an East Village block party in celebration of the opening day of the baseball season. The event will have trade show merchandise, great music, a beer garden, a food court, live entertainment, and more! Free event.
Time: 11:30 am ‚ 5:00 pm
Location: Downtown San Diego, J Street ‚ between 7th & 9th Ave.
For more information visit www.eastvillagesandiego.com

April 8, Padres Car Series ‚ Lowrider Showcase
A pre-game Lowrider Showcase takes place before the Padres take on the Los Angeles Dodgers. A fine collection of these decorated vehicles are lined up along the street for viewing and judging. You will also see an amazing demonstration where a specialized lowrider vehicle comes to life. Free event.
Time: 4:30 pm ‚ 8:00 pm
Location: Downtown San Diego, on J Street, between 7th Ave. & 10th Ave.
For more information call 619-795-5146

April 8-9, Golf Fest San Diego
Two-day golf expo where you can meet and get incredible deals from all the top golf club companies, as well as deals on clothing, golf resorts, and golf courses.
Time: 9:00 am ‚ 5:00 pm
Location: Riverwalk Golf Club, 1150 Fashion Valley Rd., San Diego
For more information visit www.golffestshow.com

April 8-9, Home Decorating & Remodeling Show
This show features home improvement products and services offered by local businesses.
Free admission.
Time: Fri & Sat 10:00 am ‚ 7:00 pm / Sun 10:00 am ‚ 5:00 pm
Location: Del Mar Fairgrounds, O’Brien Hall, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar
For more information visit www.delmarfairgrounds.com

April 8-10, Fallbrook Film Festival
The Festival provides an opportunity for local and visiting film enthusiasts to view a wide array of creative, diverse and compelling works of cinematic art from features to shorts to documentaries.
Time: Varies, refer to website
Location: Ultra Star Cinemas, River Village Plaza in Bonsall
For more information visit www.fallbrookfilmfestival.com

April 9, Annual CityBeat Festival of Beers
Over 30 local craft brewers will be offering samplings from a variety of their homegrown beers.
The event is accompanied with entertainment and tasty food. There is an admission fee.
Time: 1:00 pm ‚ 6:00 pm
Location: El Cajon Blvd. between Texas St. & Mississippi St. (in front of the Lafayette Hotel)
For more information visit www.citybeatbeerfest.com

April 9, Canine Companions Balboa Park
A Festival for dogs and people. This event features flyball, disc dogs, a K9 agility playground, contests, great shopping, delicious food and more! Peace, Love & Canine Companions dog walk precedes the festival.
Time: 10:00 am ‚ 3:00 pm
Location: Balboa Park (lawn area at Park Blvd. & President’s Way)
For more information visit www.cci.org/balboabarks.com

April 9-10, Annual Encinitas Street Faire
Browse among 400 unique booths featuring a little of everything. In addition, children’s rides,
four live stages, and the Karl Strauss Brewery beer garden guarantee that you’ll find fun for
the whole family.
Time: 9:00 am ‚ 5:00 pm
Location: Downtown Encinitas, South Coast Highway 101
For more information visit www.kennedyfaires.com/encinitas/

April 10, 5K Walk for Life & Health Fair
Fundraiser 5K walk, starting and finishing at the Pier Amphitheater. Walk and health expo sponsored
by the Cardiovascular Disease Foundation.
Time: 8:00 am ‚ 12:00 pm
Location: Pier Amphitheater, Oceanside
For more information call 760-730-1471

April 15-17, Annual Del Mar Antique Show & Sale
More than 250 premier antique dealers from all over California and the western United States will be selling the finest in antiques & collectibles. Appraisal service will also be available for $5 per item.
Time: Fri & Sat 11:00 am ‚ 7:00 pm / Sun 11:00 am ‚ 5:00 pm
Location: Del Mar Fairgrounds, O’Brien Hall, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar
For more information visit www.delmarfairgrounds.com

April 16, Annual Linda Vista Multi-Cultural Fair & Parade
A cultural celebration offering food, merchandise, performances, climbing wall, and carnival rides. There will be a Kids Zone, World Arts Village, and Teen Stage. This event is in conjunction with the Linda Vista Multi-Cultural Parade.
Time: 10:00 am -5:00 pm / Parade 11:00 am ‚ 12:00 pm
Location: Linda Vista Rd, between Comstock & Ulric, Linda Vista
For more information visit www.lindavistafair.org

April 16-17, Seaport Village Spring Busker Festival
The only Busker Festival in Southern California. Professionals from across the country will perform their bizarre talents from sword swallowing to knife throwing to pogo stick tricks and juggling unicycles. Shop, dine and enjoy an entire day of one-of-a-kind entertainment. Free to attend.
Time: Noon ‚ 5:00 pm
Location: Seaport Village ‚ Embarcadero, San Diego Bay at Harbor Drive & Pacific Highway
For more information visit www.seaportvillage.com

April 17, Avocado Festival
Celebrating agricultural heritage while providing an opportunity for entertainment and camaraderie. There will be agricultural displays, avocado culinary demonstrations, a guacamole contest, avocado ice cream, holy guaca-moly, the art of the avocado contest and much more!
Time: 9:00 am ‚ 5:00 pm
Location: Fallbrook ‚ Main Street
For more information call 760-945-9288

April 17, Annual San Diego EarthFair 2011
The annual EarthFair in Balboa Park is the largest free annual environmental fair in the world showcasing a wide variety of causes, goods, and services pertaining to the environment and quality of life. Free to attend.
Time: 10:00 am ‚ 5:00 pm
Location: Balboa Park ‚ Central Mesa Area
For more information visit www.earthdayweb.org

April 23, Spring Fling & Egg Hunts
Liberty Station will be transformed into a land of Springtime pleasures. There will be an inflatable slide, bounce houses, games, giveaways, a scavenger hunt, food, music, raffle prizes, the Easter Bunny, and a huge egg hunt.
Time: 12:00 pm ‚ 5:00 pm
Location: Liberty Station, 2624 Historic Decatur Rd., Point Loma
For more information visit www.libertystation.com

April 23, Annual Chicano Park Day
The Annual Chicano Park Day celebration features a children’s art workshop, traditional and contemporary music & dance, live bands, food, arts & crafts vendors and a classic low rider car display.
Time: 10:00 am ‚ 5:00 pm
Location: Chicano Park ‚ Cesar Chavez Parkway exit, under the Coronado Bay Bridge
For more information visit www.chicano-park.org
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Short Sale Advice: What to Do About Tenants

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Recently clients of mine who are considering a short sale asked me what to do about tenants who are living in the subject property. I gave them advice and then called a local property manager to get his perspective, since many people use property managers when they have income property. This could be a tricky situation so I thought it a good topic for a blog, which I posted in my weekly column at Real Estate and Women. For tips on how to handle this situation click here: http://realestateandwomen.net/2011/03/29/the-short-saletenant-conundrum/

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How’s the Real Estate Market in North San Diego?

Monday, March 28th, 2011

“How is the market doing?” This is the most frequently asked question I receive. Neighbors, friends, clients all want to know what is going on in the market. Here in North San Diego the market is doing quite well, actually, and things seem to be picking up.

The HomeDex statistics show that while inventory levels in San Diego county declined in February (slightly over 12.5%), both pending and sold numbers were up. Pending property numbers rose for the second month in a row. Prices have dropped a bit as well, with both single family homes and condos showing lower median prices than the same time last year (2.2% drop in median price from the same time last year for single family homes, 10.2% for condos). Heading into the spring and summer buying seasons this is good news for buyers, and if the inventory picks up it will continue to be a strong buyer’s market.

The one thing we have seen quite a bit of is cash buyers. In February these buyers accounted for 33% of existing home sales, while first time buyers accounted for 34%, according to the National Association of Realtors. Some cash buyers are investors and others are purchasing first or second properties, but all in all there is a rise in these transactions.

Another thing that seems to be on the increase is the number of buyers from out of the country. According to the National Association of Realtors 28% of U.S. Realtors have reported working with at least one foreign buyer in 2010, an increase from 23% in 2009. Reports indicate that Asian buyers are still active in the market, and recently one report said that Israelis are snatching up commercial real estate in the U.S. I have buyers from Australia and Asia right now, so I agree with the reports that there is an influx of out of area buyers.

The dollar is weak in the U.S. compared to other currencies, so now is the ideal time for people to buy. It will be interesting to see whether the disasters in Japan have an effect on Japanese buyers. For many of these buyers our real estate is inexpensive. In fact, one person I know told me that the price per square foot in China in the cities is about $600, so our real estate here is a great buy to those who have the opportunity.

San Diego county is one of the top-rated tourist destinations in the country. Our beautiful weather and coastal, outdoor lifestyle are the envy of many, and if you are in the market to purchase property there is no time like the present.

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Understanding Why You Didn’t Qualify for a Loan Mod

Friday, March 25th, 2011

Are you one of the countless homeowners who tried to obtain a loan modification under HAMP (the government’s Home Affordable Modification Program) but were denied? If so you may not have been given a reason, which makes all the time you spent, the hopes you harbored, the pages and pages of documentation you compiled, seem like a complete waste of time. Disclosure requirements have now changed for loan modification denials under HAMP, making it doubtful others will go through the same difficulties.

As of February 1 of this year lenders are required to send disclosure letters to some borrowers who applied for modifications under HAMP but were denied. Yes, I said “some,” so not everyone will receive such information (and I am not sure how this is determined). The letters must reveal up to 33 data points. These are points that the servicer uses to determine whether the borrower qualifies under HAMP, in order to satisfy the net present value (NPV) test. The goal is to make sure the new loan would be in the lender’s best interests so as to prevent future default.

If the borrower feels information used to deny the modification was incorrect, he may appeal the modification to the servicer within 30 days of receipt of the letter. Appeals must be in writing, supported by evidence explaining the perceived correct values. An example is if the home was valued incorrectly. If the borrower has a recent appraisal that changes the valuation she could present that as evidence in the appeal process.

The U.S. Treasury Department is currently creating a website where borrowers will be able to go to run their own HAMP tests to see if they meet the HAMP criteria for a modification. The site should be ready in late springtime. It may be of help to those who want to understand the 51 HAMP data points that are taken into consideration when applying for a modification under the program.

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Who Is on YOUR Team?

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Being part of a team is important for so many reasons, in most every field and job. Even if you work for yourself you most likely have a team of people without whom you could not adequately do your job. Those who don’t have strong teams tend to be less positive and have higher stress levels.

In case you are wondering what I mean by “team,” it is a term I use to include all those to whom I turn for assistance, answers, services–things that help me provide better service to my clients. I do not mean handing my work over, because that is something I do NOT believe in personally (it’s just not the way I function); instead I include as team members those who help my clients, or help me to better serve them. My team members are the people who stand behind me, and I behind them.

On my team I have mortgage brokers, transaction coordinators, short sale experts, attorneys, escrow officers and other Realtors, a host of contractors, repair people, internet experts, technology gurus, designers and jacks of all trades. These are people I can reach out to when I need a question answered or service provided, and I know they will provide me with the best information because I trust them all explicitly. I can count on these people and know they will do a fantastic job helping my clients or helping me to provide even better service. In turn I help them.

So, who is on your team? If you have not done so, take the time to evaluate everyone and see what they contribute to your success. Maybe you are missing some players. If so, seek them out–don’t worry if it takes time to do so. When you find the right people it is a true win-win situation.

Working together with all the people I include on my team not only makes my job easier, but so much more rewarding. It allows me to really be able to concentrate on my clients, and I owe much of that to my team. So if you do not have a team working behind you it is necessary in today’s world. Seek those whom you can truly trust and connect with them. You will be surprised at how much happier you will be.

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Lenders Will Owe Borrowers More Protection in Future

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

If you have been following the recent hearings to determine lender punishment in the robo-signing scandal, you know that it has been very controversial (if you have not, click here for a good explanation of the issues: http://tinyurl.com/4sqlyo4). Lenders and many government officials are trying to lighten the proposed punishment, arguing that forcing lenders to reduced loans of those unaffected by the robo-signing scandal is not fair punishment. Regardless of the arguments one thing is for sure: future borrowers will come out ahead no matter what the resolution.

Any punishment that is meted out, and they will be, is going to effect all borrower transactions in the future in the following ways:

1. Servicers will be required to provide sufficient staff in their loss mitigation departments to answer all borrower claims relating to loan modifications. Furthermore, they will have to be able to provide proof of ownership of the note on all loans on which they attempt to foreclose. This is a big win-win for borrowers, who will likely see a big difference in loan modification assistance.

2. Servicers will be required to provide the loan modification request customers with a single point of contact–one person who can handle the request. This will eliminate the “he said-she said” conundrum that most borrowers face when trying to get answers about their loan modification application. Now you will know exactly with whom to speak, eliminating headaches, wrong information, missed deadlines and wasted time. This by far is one of the most significant changes to come out of the scandal, and will help not only borrowers but many real estate professionals in their efforts to short sale a home–if the modification is not granted the agents will know who to contact to seek short sale approval.

3. No more dual tracking of modifications and foreclosures. This means that if you are in the process of seeking a modification the foreclosure possibility will be put on the back burner until the modification is denied, if that is the case. The lender will not be allowed to advise non-default borrower to default, and will be prohibited from discouraging borrowers from seeking assistance from counseling organizations.

4. No more insurance profits: servicers will not be allowed to receive kickbacks from insurance providers affiliated with them, nor to force the borrower to take high-premium policies from the same.

All in all, no matter the final outcome of these negotiations, it is clear that borrowers will be much more protected than they have in the past as a result. It is painful out there for many homeowners but this is a big step in the recovery process, and it is one that focuses exclusively on borrower rights. Check back here to keep informed.

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Feeling Down? Keep on Living

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

It is hard lately to not feel depressed. After what happened in Japan last week, with tens of thousands presumed dead and many homeless, with the now confirmed statement that there is a threat of death from radiation exposure to citizens, to the violence in Libya, Yemen and Bahrain, and the ongoing problems in other parts of the middle east and our own economic problems here at home. There seems to be so much going on that it is hard to not feel sad. Many people question whether they should go on with their lives and have fun, do happy things, in the face of such sadness.

Moving forward and looking at things from different perspectives can help us all to recover. I know that my beautiful sister-in-law, my birth father, and many others who died too young would want me and my loved ones to carry on, to make a difference and help others. They are not here at all, and I am sure they would have given anything to live longer. In honoring their memory, and the many loved ones who have passed, I feel better and can move ahead.

I am talking with my children about all the problems that are occurring in this world right now, but I am also teaching them to go forward and live, to make each moment count. I teach them not to forget that others are suffering, and to give whatever they can to help those in need, to think of things they can do to ease the pain of others. It is a great discussion to have. We cannot be strong for others if we do not take care of ourselves. So find ways to give, to help, to make a difference. But don’t forget to live.

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Are We Going Backwards With Race & Religion?

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

[I want to warn you that what I am about to discuss is a sensitive subject, and I will do my best to present it in a way that hopefully will stir some dialogue. I welcome your feedback.]

There are times when I think this country has come so far in regards to racial and religious relations. Look at the Civil Rights Movement and what it did for slavery, at the horrors of the holocaust and what lessons we learned from that. We are lucky to live in a society where we are supposed to be able to be free to practice our own religions and be equal no matter our race or skin color.

But there are also times when I truly question whether we are really all equal and free. Look at the issue just this week that happened on a U.S. airline with praying Muslims–they were assumed to be terrorists. There are still country clubs in our very own nation that, while they may not state so in their membership documents, African-Americans or Jews or other races are simply not allowed. There are places in this country where discrimination still occurs. There are active chapters of hate groups.

This week something happened in my own community, in a school nonetheless, that again makes me question whether we have truly learned anything from the past. A middle school-aged child asked me why African-American kids in his school call each other the “N” word when addressing each other in a friendly manner. We got into a big discussion about Hip-Hop and Rap music and how many of the entertainers in this field also do so. Personally I think it is a terrible word, one that was born in times of slavery, one that conjures up inequality, one that formed the very pillars of that famous “I have a dream” speech given by Martin Luther King, Jr. I simply do not understand why this should be ok and I could not explain to the child why this occurs.

In speaking with a friend of mine who is a PhD candidate and has looked at this issue, I was told that it is a cultural phenomenon. Apparently there are very educated African-Americans who speak this way to their close friends, and they obviously choose to do so. He pointed out that when they say it the word has to end in “a” instead of in “er,” and that if you listen to the music you will hear this.

Needless to say in light of all this I still do not understand. More importantly, what effect does this have on younger generations? Are we not showing them a lack of respect and compassion should they hear these things? After all, children cannot truly process this dichotomy and will not be able to do so until they are adults and their frontal lobes have fully matured.

On the religious front, there are school-aged children who salute each other with the “Heil Hitler” salute and draw swastikas. This is an extreme sign of disrespect toward Jews and all those who perished in the Holocaust, but to most of these kids it is just “cool.” Aside from the fact that some of the above actions could be considered human rights violations, the immediate effect is that it desensitizes those who speak/do them and those who hear them or see them acted out.

The fact of the matter is that we all need to sit down with our children and discuss these things. We need to remember to confirm the compassion that we have instilled in and taught to our children. These behaviors are signs of disrespect and if we allow them to continue in our communities and our homes I am afraid we will all slip backwards. Let’s try and raise our children to believe that we are all truly equal, no matter the color of our skin, our religious practices or sexual identities.

Until we raise the next generation to believe this, we will never truly be equal.

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Renters Beware: Rent Hikes Coming Soon

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

If you are a renter you should be aware that rent hikes are on the way, and they will likely be large enough to make a dent in your monthly expenses.

Over the last decade average rental rates have increased about 1% a year, and as high as 5% depending on the area. Some areas like Austin and Boston saw rental increases in the last year of 17-30%. The housing crisis has made the demand for rental properties higher, and with vacancy rates dropping landlords are cashing in on the opportunity. Many renters will have not choice but to either pay more or move to a less expensive area.

Rent increases are not arbitrary. Landlords must follow rules when instituting an increase. It is important to understand your state laws to ensure that you are provided with sufficient notice and that the rent increase is fair. For example, in California a landlord must provide tenants 30 days notice in writing if the increase is 10% or less. Such notice must be provided at any time during the 12 month period during which the increase is to take effect.

If the increase is to be greater than 10% notice must be given at least 60 days in advance. There are formulas to calculate percentages of rent increase. No matter the increase amount, landlords must either deliver the written notice to you personally, or mail it. If it is mailed an extra five days are tagged on to the notice period to ensure proper delivery (35 or 65 days, depending on the increase, from the date of mailing).

Rent increases also depend on whether you have a month-to-month tenancy or a tenancy for a specific period, such as a year. Make sure to understand how your state laws apply to you. The rising number of rent increases should last for some time, but will eventually get better as the market stabilizes.

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What Are YOU Doing About Bullying?

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Fact: ONE IN FOUR STUDENTS ARE BULLIED.

Those who know me know that bullying is an issue close to my heart. I was bullied in middle and high school, and one of my children has been bullied. Watching my child go through that was not only upsetting to me, but it made me angry in a way that I can’t even explain. I was angry at the parents of the bullies for not teaching their children true compassion. I was mad at school officials for not truly following any true programs–even when they had them in writing. I was angry that other students watch (and still do) bullying every day, as bystanders, yet do nothing (they do not have the tools to deal with this). I was angry at a lot of people. But my anger didn’t help. It didn’t make the problem go away.

I took my anger and started trying to make changes in our local school district, specifically at my local middle school. My voice was loud, and I was joined by many parents, and we have been heard. We are still awaiting changes from school officials. It is almost political to make changes in a school that are for the better–so frustrating.

The fact of the matter is that bullying goes on daily, and that bystanders, victims, teachers and others simply do not know what to do about it. In our local high school just last week, there was a physical fight between two ninth graders. Many kids were watching and egging it on, and one student was video taping the scene from his phone…that is, until a teacher came up and asked him to delete the video–really! I shudder to think what would happen if that child were injured (or worse), and the physical evidence destroyed.

If you wonder what is going on to stop this horrible problem, there are some good programs and helpful people out there. Here are some of my favorites:

Obama Administration: Obama and the government have become vocal on the issue of bullying. The Department of Education announced in November that schools that do not deal with bullying of gay students are failing to enforce gender discrimination laws and could lose government funding. The administration is also working closely with the Department of Health and Human Services to combat the problem and increase counseling and teaching in schools. I am certain we will see more from the government on bullying prevention.

Facebook: Facebook is jumping into the bullying problem head first, attacking cyber-bullying by expanding their existing bullying reporting system. Now those who are bullied online can file a report and send it to a teacher and/or parent as well.

MTV: MTV created an interactive bullying visualization tool called “Draw Your Line,” which tracks bullying education and prevention activity across the county using virtual maps. It is part of the anti-bullying campaign A Thin Line (http://www.athinline.org/). Apps have also been created to allow kids to chime in on whether a particular bullying incident went Over the Line?–the name of the app.

MTV also has a wonderful show called “If You Really Knew Me.” It is developed around an amazing program called Challenge Day (http://www.challengeday.org/), which has been at high schools around the country. It brings together kids of all “labels,” like “jocks,” “nerds,” “populars,” etc. It is a one day program that is so powerful I have no words to do it justice. If you have not seen it I HIGHLY recommend watching an episode. If you have tweens or teens have them watch it with you. Have tissues handy. http://www.mtv.com/shows/if_you_really_knew_me/series.jhtml

Star Power–Hollywood stars have been jumping on the anti-bullying bandwagon. Ellen DeGeneres has been vocal in supporting programs to combat bullying, including STOMP Out Bullying, a program that aims to reduce bullying and cyber-bullying. You can check out all the great work they are doing at http://www.stompoutbullying.org/

Justin Bieber also has added his voice to anti-bullying campaigns, telling fans to take action against cyber-bullying by posting on Draw Your Line. As a young and very influential star, people like Bieber lending support to such relevant issues will undoubtedly assist in bringing this issue further into the spotlight.

Many school districts across the country have developed their own ways to help prevent bullying, and there are some incredible programs. Please get involved with your district if you have school-aged children. If they do not have a program join together with other parents and teachers to start one. Bullying is not going to go away without education, calls to action and involvement. We all need to help to create a new culture where bullying is not welcome.

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