Archive for June, 2011

San Diego July Calendar of Events

Thursday, June 30th, 2011
Every Saturday, Stagecoach Days: Celebrating the West on the Move
Celebrate travel and transportation in the era of real horsepower – before the train and automobile. In addition to the permanent collection of historic wagons on display at Seeley Stable museum, coaches and wagons will be out in the plaza. Stay the day and enjoy activities that reflect life in San Diego during the mid-1800s. Each week will offer a different theme and activities. The activities are Free.
Time: 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Location: Old Town San Diego State Historic Park,
San Diego Ave. and Twiggs St.
For more information visit http://www.parks.ca.gov/events/event_detail.asp?id=2946

July 4, Annual Big Bay Boom Fireworks Show
A display of some of the most technically advanced pyrotechnics will be fired from four barges floating in the bay off Shelter Island, Harbor Island, the Embarcadero area and Seaport Village, and will last more than 17 minutes. Fireworks will also be discharged at the Imperial Beach Pier. Good Viewing Areas: Shelter Island, Harbor Island, Spanish Landing, Seaport Village, Embarcadero Marina Park North, Tuna Harbor, Coronado Landing, & Coronado Tidelands Park, or on your own yacht on the bay.
Time: 9:00 pm – 9:20 pm
Location: San Diego Bay
For more information visit www.thebigbay.com

July 4, Scripps Ranch Old Pros 10K, 2-Mile Fun Run & Bike Rides
This event offers several running and cycling opportunities to choose from.
See website for entry fees.
Time: 6:00 am – 1:00 pm
Location: Miramar Ranch School parking lot, Scripps Ranch
For more information visit www.srop.org

July 8, Midnight Catfish Craze
San Diego County’s only nighttime catfish tournament promises to be filled with lots of big fish, big fun, and great prizes. The top five catfish by weight will be awarded prizes as well as a prize for the smallest catch of the night. The lake will is stocked with over 1,500 pounds of channel catfish. Derby Ticket plus daily permit required. See website for details.
Time: 4:00 pm – 11:45 pm
Location: Lake Poway, 14644 Lake Poway Rd., Poway
For more information visit www.poway.org/lakepoway

July 9, Bake at the Lake
A four-mile cross-country race on the trails at Lake Hodges. Proceeds benefit Mission Vista High School Cross Country Teams and the park trails system at Lake Hodges. Participate and get a good workout for a good cause. Admission $10 – $15.
Time: 7:30 am – 10:30 am
Location: Lake Hodges
For more information visit www.northcountyroadrunners.com

July 9-10 & 16-17, Annual World Championship Over-the-Line Tournament
Over fifty years of adult rugged sandbox softball play. A form of softball, limited to 1,200 teams of three persons each, playing almost 2,400 games in two weekends with close to 50,000 expected to attend. Admission is free. You have to be 18+ to play. 9 age divisions.
Time: 7:30 am to dusk
Location: Fiesta Island – Fiesta Island Rd – East Mission Bay
For more information visit www.ombac.org

July 10, 2011 Carlsbad Triathlon
This race is for everybody. The Carlsbad Triathlon ranks in the world’s top five longest running triathlons. The race begins with an open-water ocean swim, which is well-marked with buoys followed by a bike course, and the race finishes with a run along the Pacific Ocean coastline.
Time: 8:00 am
Location: Tamarack State Beach, Carlsbad
For more information visit

July 14-17, Robert Egger South Bay Recreation Center Carnival
A 4-day community carnival–fun for the whole family. There will be traditional carnival rides, challenging games, snacks, and a portrait novelty booth. Small admission fee of $2.00.
Free for age 6 & under.
Time: Weekdays 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm / Sat & Sun 1:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Location: Robert Egger South Bay Recreation Center, 1885 Coronado Ave.
For more information call 760-735-8542

July 14-17, San Diego Yacht and Boat Show 2011
Become immersed in the environment of powerboats and sailboats in the water and on land.
Marine accessory products and services are also well represented in a special expo area.
Admission: Adults $10 / Children 12 & under free.
Time: Thurs & Fri  11:00 am – 7:00 pm / Sat  10:00 am – 7:00 pm / Sun 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Location: Sheraton Hotel & Marina,
1380 Harbor Island Dr.  & Cancer Survivors Park, 4100 N. Harbor Blvd., Harbor Island
For more information visit www.sandiegoyachtandboatshow.com

July 16 & 17, Annual LGBT Pride Parade, Rally & Festival
Multiple events take place in Balboa Park & Hillcrest areas, including a political rally, a 5K Run & Walk, a mile-long parade down University Ave., and a two-day festival with live entertainment on three stages and much more!
Time: Refer to website for schedule of events
Location: Balboa Park and Hillcrest areas
For more information visit www.sandiegopride.org

July 17 & 18, El Cajon Alley Cat SummerFest
Features prominent artists, entertainment, and sidewalk vendors from East County and San Diego.  There will be live music, a classic car show, motorcycle run, job fair, and art show.
Time: Fri  10:00 am – 8:00 pm / Sat  9:00 am – 10:00 pm
Location: Downtown El Cajon (between East Main St. & Rea Ave)
For more information visit www.downtownelcajon.com

July 20 – Sept 7, Del Mar Horse Racing
Hold on to your hats…
the Del Mar Racing Season is about to begin!
Time: Refer to website for schedule and special events
Location: Del Mar Fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar
For more information visit www.delmarracing.com

July 21 – 24, Comic Con International 2011
Comic Con International features special guests, exhibitors, seminars, previews, autographs, film festival, and more on the world of comics, movies/television, animation, and art. This is the largest comic book and pop culture event in the United States.
Time: Refer to website for schedule
Location: San Diego Convention Center, 111 W. Harbor Dr., San Diego
For more information visit www.comic-con.org

July 22 – 24, US Open Sandcastle Competition & Street Festival
This 3-day event includes a The Sandcastle Ball on Friday, street festival with entertainment, food,
arts & crafts, and a kids sandcastle completion on Saturday, and the main sandcastle building contest on Sunday.
Time: Refer to website for complete schedule
Location: Seacoast Dr., Imperial Beach
For more information visit www.usopensandcastle.com

July 24, Solana Beach Triathlon & Duathon
Classic beach party triathlon. Come out and join the surf, sand and sun with over two thousand athletes, family and friends.
Time: 7:00 am
Location: Fletcher Cove, Solana Beach
For more info: http://www.kozenterprises.com/Triathlons/solanadf84.htm

July 31, Consignment Auction
Antiques and collectibles consignment auction including farmhouse and barnyard collectibles, estate furnishings, restored and original farm tractors, wagons, farm toys, rustic farm implements, yard art, tack & saddlery, historic memorabilia, county primitives, and hundreds more antiques and collectibles. Consignments are accepted.
Time: 9:00 am
Location: Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum, 2040 N. Santa Fe Ave., Vista
For more information call 760-941-1791 or visit www.agsem.com

July 31, 3rd Annual Doggie Street Festival
Southern California’s Largest Dog Adoption Focused Festival. This event celebrates our furry friends and is dedicated to educating the public about pet care, training, spay/neuter and responsible adoption options. Besides traditional festival-type food and music, the event also offers pet merchandise, pet sitting services, and dog washing & grooming. Free admission.
Time: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Location: NTC Park at Liberty Station (Cushing Rd between Dewey Roosevelt Rds), Point Loma
For more information visit www.doggiestreetfestival.org
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Encinitas Gets a Delicious Addition/Addiction

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

The City of Encinitas, already one of the most fabulous places in North San Diego, now has something new to brag about: Whole Foods Market has opened up downtown. Today was the grand opening and I dropped in to see the new store (already one of my favorites) and all the happy locals.

If you have not visited Encinitas in a while you will be amazed by the transformation of the downtown area. Incredible restaurants, hip boutiques, art galleries, yoga studios, and a host of urban-upscale living spaces now grace the short stretch of the downtown area along Coast Highway 101 and right near the beach. Old favorites are still there, like the Lumberyard, Swami’s Cafe, the weekend outdoor bazaar and La Paloma Theater, but there is much more to see. Whole Foods is the perfect addition.

Whole Foods Encinitas is a feast for the senses. The produce – much of it local and also organic – is fresh and ripe, bursting with color and flavor. Specialty cheeses, meats, soaps, coffee, bakery items, fresh fish, and unique items will keep you busy browsing for a long time. But my absolute FAVORITE part is the freshly prepared food, including the salad bar, fresh pizza and hot food bar. Each item is carefully prepared with the freshest ingredients, and is beautifully presented. There is no better place to grab a delicious and healthy lunch – and there is something for everyone, even the pickiest eater.  You can eat outside at the tables and enjoy the beautiful Encinitas weather.

The recipes used by the Whole Foods Chefs are amazing. Nothing looks like it has been sitting out all day, and nothing is over-dressed or over-marinated. The vegetables are all crunchy and there is no limp lettuce or rubbery cheese. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable.

Treat yourself to something special and stop by the new Whole Foods in Encinitas…you may just see me there too. The store is located at 687 S. Coast Highway 101 in downtown Encinitas. You can visit the website for a list of events and specials at http://wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/encinitas/.

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Open a Checking Account, Get a Free Foreclosure

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Sound unbelievable? I actually borrowed the words in the headline from a fellow Tweeter (thank you @sd_mls_photos!), who wrote them in response to my Tweet on the phenomenon of online coupon/deal sites commingling with the real estate industry.  It definitely made you stop and want to read on, right! How ridiculous would it be if banks made such an offer?

There is one broker in Chicago that had much success in offering a Groupon to prospective buyers – they offered cash back at the close of escrow, and sold 200 deals. Some in our industry believe these types of sites are a good way to market real estate services. I do not agree.

I believe that being a Realtor means you are a professional. Sure, there are those who dabble in it, rarely sell homes, work part time, don’t take it seriously…but you will find people like that in any industry. The serious agents – those of us who work full time and work hard for our clients – we are professionals. Offering an online coupon for services cheapens those services.

I believe that a prospective client needs to meet an agent and talk to him/her before deciding to work together. Likewise, I like to meet clients to decide if I want to work with them (yes, as a professional I do have that choice, and there have been times I have chosen not to work with people…it’s not about the money – integrity and saving one’s sanity come first).

Apparently Groupon and some other sites have recently put working with Realtors on hold. Many are trying to figure out why, but my legal mind senses potential liability – people wanting their money back (maybe they are dissatisfied, maybe they found out they couldn’t qualify for a loan and thus cannot purchase a home, or other reasons). This could undoubtedly create a problem for online deal sites, even though I am sure somewhere in the fine print it must say the purchases are non-refundable.

If you are a homebuyer you need to shop carefully for an agent. Do not choose someone solely on the basis of a coupon. Meet them, check out their credentials, ask what they will do for you and why you should work with them – this is a service industry and you are the client, so you deserve to be well-cared for.

Don’t get me wrong…I am sure there are some very good, professional agents who would opt to use coupon sites to attract clients. But just because you get a deal doesn’t mean you will click with the agent. If a deal is important you can discuss it with an agent who does click with you!

 

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What Can Homebuyers Learn from Investors?

Monday, June 20th, 2011

I read a post today on the things today’s buyers are looking for in purchasing a home. The list included upgrades, an open kitchen, green features, phenomenal price, incentives offered, etc. All the things on the list were things I too would love in a new home. But the problem is that some buyers are looking for the whole shebang, and they actually end up losing out on some fantastic homes.

Investors understand how to find a property and get a great deal, because they are looking at the purchase as a business decision, with no emotion. They focus on price, location, and rentability. Those looking for a home to live in don’t quite have the ability to approach the purchase with the same perspective – and rightfully so – but can learn some valuable lessons from the investor. Here are some ideas on how to find your perfect home, even though it may have a few flaws.

1.  Make a wish list. It is important to prioritize your needs. For example, location is always key. Do you want to be in a certain community, close to schools, work, shopping, transportation? These should go on the top of your list. Price of course is equally important, so set a budget. You can put other things on your list, like type of counters, flooring, yard, etc. Prioritizing them will make your decision, when the time comes, less difficult.

2.  Focus on the first few things on your list, first. If you walk into a home and try to find everything on your list chances are you will be out of luck. But if you find the first five things and you have a good feeling about the home, you can work around the missing items (see #4).

3.  View many properties, narrow it down. See everything there is to see that meets the majority of your criteria, then make another list of the things you like and don’t love about each property that has potential. It helps to do this on one page, with columns, so you can compare. Visualization makes a difference in narrowing down and focusing on those that are truly homes in which you can see yourself living.

4. Negotiate! Remember that it is a buyer’s market! If a home has carpet that is not to your taste try writing an offer while taking into consideration the price of new flooring (if you want $20,000 wood floors and the home has linoleum this might be stretching, so speak with your agent). You can also ask for credit through escrow. Of course, this may not work if you are purchasing a short sale or lender-owned property, and they are usually priced lower than comparable sold properties in the area. But either way you can always try to negotiate, and then decide if it’s worth it. I had a buyer who didn’t like the colors in a home, but liked the home. I pointed out that paint is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to completely change a home, and got a verbal estimate from my painter on doing so…some people don’t think that way so consider possibilities.

The key to finding a house that can truly be a home is to keep an open mind. By working closely with an agent who is an area expert, you can use the comparables and negotiating power to your advantage. Also keep in mind that when the investor buyers are out in force, like they are now, it is usually the best time to buy – before rates rise. Happy house hunting!

 

 

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Foreclosures: Is the Barrage Over?

Friday, June 17th, 2011

Recent studies indicate that foreclosure filings are down across the nation, but what does that really mean?

Several theories have been discussed in the media about what will happen next. One is that things are improving, albeit slowly, and lenders are embracing foreclosure prevention measures (like loan modifications and short sales) more heartily. The other is that we are witnessing the calm before another storm of foreclosures.

Some lenders, such as Wells Fargo, are taking taking steps toward strengthening home ownership and preventing foreclosures. Wells just announced that it will no longer provide reverse mortgages for elderly homeowners. The lender is also working with the U.S. Mayors council to help homeowners stay in their homes. These proactive solutions will have an effect on the future of home ownership, and hopefully more lenders will follow the example.

Judging from published numbers (RealtyTrac reports foreclosures were down in May 20% from the same time last year) it appears the worst is behind us. But there is still a lot of shadow inventory out there – homes owned by lenders post-foreclosure that have not yet been listed on the market for sale. This inventory will keep housing prices down until it is all sold; if home values go down there will likely be more homeowners underwater, which could lead to more foreclosures – a vicious cycle. The job market will also play into the equation.

Focusing on the big picture I do not believe we will see another foreclosure storm the likes of what we have witnessed in the last several years, and I think improvement is ahead but we will have some hurdles first with shadow inventory and the job market. We do need to focus on selling the distressed properties so that we can start climbing back toward a more normal and stable housing market.

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Throw the Lenders to the Courts

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Over the past several years there have been attempts to let judges take over lender issues, such as those related to foreclosures and bankruptcy. Some states, like California and New York, have allowed judges to intervene in ruling on improper foreclosures, or in cases where lenders assign mortgages for which they have no documented proof of ownership. There is much controversy in allowing the courts to step in and help fix some of these housing-related issues, but I think it is high time we do so.

The courts, although not known for being expeditious in many instances, could revolutionize the housing crisis by appointing judges to focus specifically on these cases. Not only would it protect future homeowners from wrongful foreclosures, but it would send a message to lenders to be more thorough in their processes, and likely lead to more and quicker loan modifications and short sale blessings.

Call me simple, or maybe blame it on my law school education, but I don’t understand why so many problems take so long to remedy, when all it does is create more problems and batter our economy even further. There ARE solutions to problems, but it seems we don’t tend to implement them. Politicians talk about solutions until they are blue in the face, but why not just put one in place and see what happens. Things can’t possibly get any worse. If it doesn’t work, we’ll try something else – but we can’t sit around doing NOTHING!

So I say let the judges look at pre-foreclosure filings. Make the lenders prove ownership. Jumping through these hoops a few times will likely be a hassle, hopefully causing lenders to think twice about NOT looking at loan modifications or short sales as options for distressed sellers. The burden on the legal system and the expense associated with it would likely be temporary, and surely not as great as the current strain on housing and the costs of foreclosure.

What do you think?

 

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June Real Estate News

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Downpayment increase rule under debate: If you haven’t heard, banking industry regulators have a rule on the table that would require buyers to pay a minimum of 20% down on home purchases. Although many lenders require this already there are some loans that can be obtained with very little money down, such as FHA loans (which require only 3.5% down). This has stirred much debate amongst buyers, sellers, Realtors, economists and politicians, with studies concluding that 30% of the home sales market would be decimated.

Congress’ intention in raising downpayment rates is to provide stronger borrowers, thus preventing fewer loan defaults in the future. But many groups, including the National Association of Realtors (NAR) are vehemently opposed to such legislation and have been lobbying against the proposal. I will keep you updated.

Mortgage Servicers in the Hot Seat Again: At least 14 regulated mortgage servicers have been scolded by banking regulators for negligence and misconduct in servicing, or failing to properly service loans. The U.S. Treasury also recently released a report indicating performance by the 10 largest HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program) servicers. They found 4 need substantial improvement (including Bank of America, Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase), and are withholding future financial incentives under the program to the 3 mentioned above until improvements are made and problems addressed.

Home Sales Expected to Rise This Year: Some economists, like Lawrence Yun – chief economist for the National Association of Realtors – predict sales for the remainder of the year will improve for the following reasons: more jobs, stock market wealth is on the rise, apartment rents are climbing, conditions of high affordability continue, home values are at historically low levels, investors are out in the market nice again looking to hedge against inflation, lenders starting to shorten lengthy short sale processes, and the number of foreign buyers has increased due to market conditions. Of course there are other factors to keep an eye on, like gas prices and the fate of Congress’ attempt to increase down payments on home purchases (see above), but there seem to be strong factors indicating this may in fact be true. Let’s hope so.

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North County Rental News

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

Although rental news is not typically a topic I cover here I think it is a relevant topic, in light of all the investors who are purchasing income properties. I was curious to get the perspective of someone who is right in the center of the rental market, so I called my colleague Lee Arnold of Chamberlain Property Management, a property management company in North San Diego.

Despite all the news stories of rents being raised, Lee told me that rents here in North San Diego are pretty steady.

Established renters: Although landlords can effectively raise rents, and will still be able to find tenants (properties are still renting rather quickly, often with multiple applications submitted right off the bat), it costs the landlord to turn over units. On average it could amount to $5,000 in lost rents and vacancy time, and to prepare the property for the next tenants (repairs, painting, etc.). Many landlords have opted to forgo raising rents for the time being, in lieu of keeping the tenants they have in their properties.

New renters: Expect to see new rentals priced a bit higher than current tenants might be paying for similar units. In other words, if you are already a renter there is a good chance your rent may not go up, but if you are looking for rental property you may encounter higher prices. The higher end rental market is the only one not going up right now, and according to Lee Arnold that is likely because of people reassessing their goals. Higher-end rentals include those over $3,000 a month.

Another interesting fact that property managers are seeing is that 2 bedroom units are not renting as quickly as 3+ bedroom units. This is due to the smaller size of the two bedroom units, comparatively speaking.

If you are looking for a property to rent you may want to speak with a mortgage broker to discuss you budget and loan options. If you plan well, you may be able to purchase a home and pay less per month than you would pay in rent. Many recent articles have shed light on the fact that renting can be more expensive than buying, so make sure you are informed before you make a choice!

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A Double-Dip, with Chocolate Please

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

It’s official: we are headed toward a double-dip in the housing market; some areas are there already. The second dip is not as bitter as the first, in fact it may tend to be sweet for many, so rather than feel terrified like we did the first time, this is the time to take a bite and not worry about your figure.

Standard and Poor’s (yes, I note the irony) Case-Shiller index, the nation’s foremost authority on housing market statistics, released their much-anticipated report this week that confirmed what many already assumed: the housing market seems to be headed down. In fact, the report indicates that housing prices have fallen more now than they did during the Great Depression. This depresses many people.

Actually, for those who see good in the bad, beauty in the ugly, this news should be somewhat celebrated. If you are a seller it means it will be a harder time to sell, and you will need to price your home accordingly or you will accrue market time with no offers. BUT, if you do price and market properly the silver lining is that there will be buyers out there, so look at it as a chance to sell your home (it just may not be for the amount you anticipated). If you do not have to sell and do not have much/any equity in your home, you may decide to wait a bit.

If you are a buyer this is really your time. The biggest challenge will be the lenders, of course. But if you have an experienced mortgage broker and you make sure you are prepared before you shop, you will be the proverbial kid in the candy store. Short sales and foreclosures (lender-owned properties) will be your best bet for your dollar, and negotiating power will likely be strong, as distressed properties are not going away any time soon.

The bottom line is this: if you work with a great mortgage person and truly understand the programs out there, as well as the loan amount for which you can qualify, you are off to a great start. Spend time really visiting the properties that fit your needs, and gathering information about neighborhoods, amenities and floorplans. If you play it smart you will likely end up with a home purchased at a great price, which will accrue equity as the market heals. Good luck!

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