Archive for December, 2011

January Calendar of Events for San Diego

Friday, December 30th, 2011

Happy New Year everyone! I can’t believe 2011 is coming to a close. I am excited for 2012 and hope that you all have a wonderful year, filled with good health, happiness, laughter and success. There is a lot going on in January in San Diego, so enjoy!

 

January 6-7, 2nd Annual Free E-Waste Recycling Event
Need to get rid of the electronic waste just sitting around your home or office? This free E-waste recycling event is sponsored by Computer Circulation Center, Inc. and the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce.
Time:  9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Location:  2205 Vista Way, Oceanside
For more information call 760-722-1534

January 6-8, Gem Faire
The Gem Faire, established in 1989, has become a world-renowned marketplace for the finest gemstones, beads, jewelry, minerals, fossils, meteorites, lapidary equipment, metaphysical items and much more at the lowest prices in today’s market.  Workshops and classes are also offered.
Time:  Fri.  Noon – 6:00 pm / Sat. 10:00 am – 6:00 pm / Sun.  10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Location:  Del Mar Fairgrounds, Bing Crosby Hall
For more information visit www.gemfaire.com

January 8, Annual San Diego Resolution Run 5K & 15K
San Diego Resolution Run will take runners on a loop around Fiesta Island in scenic Mission Bay Park’s De Anza Cove while raising funds for charities that seek to keep the environment healthy.
Time:  7:00 pm
Location:  De Anza Cove, 3000 East Mission Bay Dr., Mission Bay
For more information visit www.sandyfeetevents.com

January 15, Petco Foundation Walk, Run, Wag
This is a do-not-miss event for San Diegans and their beloved four-legged family members!  Walk or run a  5K or 1 mile course with your dog, or without a dog, or with a team.  This event will also include an expo where dogs and their owners can shop together for sports products, pet products and more.
Time:  Starts at 7:00 am
Location:  2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar

January 15, 32nd Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Parade
An annual event commemorating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King.  The Parade features marching bands and floats, drill teams, dance groups, and other community groups.
Time:  2:00 pm
Location:  Harbor Dr. – Embarcadero
For more information visit www.alpha-zsl.org/mlkdayparade.html

January 15-20, San Diego Restaurant Week
Extraordinary three-course menus from San Diego’s best restaurants.  Choose from
180 of the city’s best restaurants and enjoy a fixed price, three-course dinner for $20, $30 or $40 per person, depending on the restaurant.  There are no tickets or passes required.  For a complete list of participating restaurants visit the
San Diego Restaurant Week website.
Time:  Varies
Location:  Refer to website for participating restaurants
For more information visit www.sandiegorestaurantweek.com

January 20-22  San Diego Lunar New Year Tet Festival
The Vietnamese community, in celebration of the
Lunar New Year, is presenting a festival to promote homeland traditions.  There will be a mock structure of a Vietnam village where  you’ll experience ancestral rituals and entertaining performances; plus contests, rides, food, and merchandise.
Time:  Fri. 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm / Sat. 11:00 am – 10:00 pm / Sun. 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Location:  Balboa Park – lawn area & parking lot at Park Blvd. & President’s Way
For more information visit www.sdtet.com

January 20-22, Del Mar Antique Show
More than 250 premier antique dealers from all over California and the western
United States will be selling the finest antiques & collectibles.  Appraisal service is available
for $5 per item.  Restoration services are also available.
Time:  Fri. & Sat.  11:00 am – 7:00 pm / Sun. 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Location:  Del Mar Fairgrounds, O’Brien Hall
For more information visit www.calendarshows.com

January 21, Whale Festival
The free Whale Festival is a family community event offering a wide variety of interactive and hands-on displays to spark the interest and imagination of any child.  Activities includes a walk-through gray whale, live sea creatures, free face painting, a kids art mural coloring project, a festival train ride and a bounce house.  Live music on-stage.
Time:  11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Location:  Port Pavilion on the Broadway Pier, on the corner of Broadway and N. Harbor Dr.,
Downtown San Diego, on the Embarcadero
For more information visit www.whaledays.com

January 22, Carlsbad Marathon & Half Marathon
This marathon features a rolling course, including 14 miles along the Pacific Ocean.  Includes 26 fully staffed course support stations, continuous entertainment and unsurpassed volunteer support.  The marathon and half marathon start and finish at Westfield Plaza Camino Real.
Time:  5:00 am – 2:00 pm
Location:  Westfield Plaza Camino Real, 2525 El Camino Real, Carlsbad
For more information visit www.carlsbadmarathon.com

January 23-29, PGA Tour Golf Tournament
San Diego is the host for the “Farmer’s Insurance Open” at the exclusive Torrey Pines Golf Course.
Time:  Opening round 26th: 7:30 am
Location:  Torrey Pines Golf Course, 11480 North Torrey Pines Rd.
For more information visit www.pgatour.com/tournaments/r004/

January 26-29, San Diego Sunroad Boatshow
The San Diego Sunroad Boatshow is complete with both land and in-water locations, focusing on the latest boats and marine equipment.  This years show includes over 100 new & pre-cruised sailboats and motor yachts, dozen of marine vendors with the latest nautical products & services, delicious food and drink sponsored by local restaurants, and special boating events and boat rides for kids and adults.  Fun for the whole family.
Time:  Thurs. & Fri. Noon – 6:00 pm / Sat. & Sun. 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Location:  Harbor Island, San Diego Bay, East end of Harbor Island
For more information visit www.bigbayboatshow.com/

January 27-29, Home Decorating & Remodeling Show
The show features home improvement products and services offered by local businesses.  This show will have a “green theme” and will highlight businesses that offer environmental products.  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 & Activity Center
For more information visit www.delmarhomeshow.net

January 28, 2nd Annual Stephen Strasburg 5K Walk
& Fun Run with Tony Gwynn
A family-friendly event that will include games and fun for everyone.  By registering for this event you will receive an all-inclusive package featuring autographs, tickets, t-shirt and more.  After the walk/fun run there will be lots of activities for all ages.  Live music, food court, Kids Fun Zone and more.
Time:  Start time @ 8:25 am
Location:  Tony Gwynn Stadium, San Diego State University
For more information visit www.strasburg5k.com

January 29, Bridal Bazaar
At the January Bridal Bazaar there will be thousands of wedding ideas, fashions, products and services…all in one place.  You’ll meet more than 300 of San Diego’s most trusted wedding professionals offering everything you need to make your wedding extraordinary.
Time:  10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Location:  San Diego Convention Center, Halls E & F, 111 West Harbor Dr.
For more information visit www.bridalbazaar.com
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Planning for Business Success in the New Year

Monday, December 26th, 2011

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, spent with loved ones, and was able to take a little time off. I rarely do take time off, and these past few days were truly wonderful – just being with my family and not paying attention to my phone or computer. It was well-deserved and much appreciated, and now I am ready to focus on the New Year.

This time of year we typically see lots of advice on how to prepare our businesses and ourselves for the new year, so that we can be more successful. I hope the following will help you to focus on prioritizing, planning and achieving success.

Organize. I know many talented, smart business colleagues who are not reaching their full potential because they are not organized. The clutter in their business lives truly makes it hard for them to drive forward and be the ultimate version of themselves. Organization is so important in business and in all aspects of your life, and there is no time like the present to start. Whether you use programs and apps to keep track of expenses, files, clients, appointments, or plain file folders and tabs and spreadsheets…there is just so much out there to help you get organized.

This could obviously be a post in itself, so I’ll leave it at this: find the way that helps you best, and just get started. Load all your contacts into a program, organize your files, record all your expenses in a program or at least in a folder. Then make lists of all the things you can do to stay organized throughout the year, and stick to it.

Prioritize. I have really been focusing on this task with my middle-school aged daughter, and it is hard to learn. Many of us tend to jump in and tackle things, with no plan. But if you stop and prioritize first, you will make your life a lot easier. Sometimes in business everything can seem like top priority, and this is where you need to take a step back and not let things bog you down. I make a list each morning when I start work of the things I need to accomplish that day, in order of importance. Throughout the course of the day my list might be altered, things will have to be pushed down to the bottom, and others will have to be tabled until the following day. But the fact that I have this list every day makes getting things done a lot easier.

Contact management. This is clearly a must for any business dealing with clients or customers. Staying in contact with these people is not only important, it is the difference between business life and death. Keeping all your contacts in an organized fashion helps you to stay in contact with them, call them, and not forget that they are your most important assets. There are many programs to help you do this, from free (like MailChimp) to expensive (like TopProducer). You can also use spread sheets, but make sure you update them constantly and pay attention to these most important assets!

Blogging. I have written blogs about the importance of blogging, yet many people still do not blog. If it is fear preventing you from doing so, you have nothing to be afraid of. You do not have to be a writer to blog. What you do have to be in an area/field expert – talk about what you know. The more you do, the more you will be seen as an expert, which will drive customers to you. and open up other opportunities. If you don’t like to write you can use video. The important thing is just to do it, and to make your content rich with information – fun, interesting, and informative.

Time management. Your time is extremely valuable. Many of us get so caught up in all the things we have to do that we fail to take care of ourselves, spend time with loved ones, relax…we need all those things! You cannot be successful if you are just a driven machine all the time. Each weekend I schedule all my appointments for the week ahead – business appointments, meetings, classes, and everything else – like picking up my children from school, working out, family time, date night with my husband and personal appointments. If it is in my schedule it is sacred (sometimes things need to be moved around, but I strive to stick to it). If you still can’t do it, you might want to think about hiring an assistant.

The bottom line is that you can be more productive and more successful. Of course, there are other things you can do and you can take things  to another level with apps, programs and other ideas, but whatever you do this coming year, try to keep organized, prioritize, and make time for yourself. Have a very happy New Year!

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What Do Real Estate Agents REALLY Do?

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

I was involved in some communications this morning between agents-members of a social media group called “Raise the Bar in Real Estate,” and we do our best to make this happen.  The question came up about buyers and sellers out there do not understand what we agents actually DO. One of my colleagues commented that many buyers think all we are there to do is to help them find a home, and this creates misunderstanding and some negative feelings about our profession.

I have blogged on this topic before, but it is always worth sharing again in order to dispel some of the myths and help people to understand what Realtors truly do every day. Here are some of things agents do in the course of most every day/week:

1. Check on new inventory, visit/preview properties

2. Attend broker caravans

3. Help buyers. Many buyers like to do their own searching, but we still have to keep up with inventory, and familiarize ourselves with what is out there in our local market. We need to find properties, view them. schedule appointments to show them, if necessary. We need to draft offers and explain terms, negotiate on behalf of our buyers on terms and repairs, schedule and attend home inspections and other inspections if necessary, as well as attend final walkthroughs. We need to coordinate with the buyer’s mortgage professional if the buyer is obtaining a loan, and make sure that process is smooth so that we can remove contingencies on time. We need to make sure our buyers are provided all necessary disclosures and paperwork.

4. Help sellers: pre-listing. Listing agents must compile data and create information and presentations to show to potential sellers. This takes hours if the agent does her job correctly. Personally, I take all the information about comps, my marketing plan and other valuable information, and create a visual presentation tailored to the seller’s home, which I will then present to them along with a folder full of printed information specific to listing their home. I then meet with the sellers and present everything, as well as answer questions and listen to their concerns.

5. List homes: This involves more than just signing a contract and sticking a sign in the yard (or, at least it should). Here are some of the things that need to be completed: getting paperwork completed, scheduling professional photography and virtual tours, creating beautiful flyers, placing the property on the MLS, scheduling termite inspections, advertising online and in print, scheduling open houses (it takes me several hours to prepare for an open house, as I have to view comparables and active listings in the neighborhood, and prepare my binders of information -on comps, neighborhood, schools and other area data – to show potential buyers), holding open houses, holding a broker open house (I do so with a catered brunch/lunch).

6. Upon acceptance of an offer on a listing: Present offer to clients, handle negotiations, open escrow, order inspections, provide all disclosures to seller and then transfer to buyer, communicate with escrow officer, mortgage professional, title representative, home inspector, appraiser (and provide detailed analysis of the comps to the appraiser), and the buyer’s agent, to assure all time frames are met and that we stay on schedule for closing. If a short sale or REO (bank owned property) – there is even more involved (see below).

7. Short sales. This deserves it’s own category because of the amount of work involved. Before listing, much work must be done – researching the loans and liens on the property, advising the sellers, providing packets to the sellers to fill out which will be submitted to the lenders, to name a few. Aside from the standard listing work, the agent must communicate with the lender(s), negotiate any pending auction dates to get an extension, and spend a great deal of time presenting information to the lender in the hopes of getting an acceptance of an offer. Throughout this process the agent must keep the sellers and the buyer’s agent informed, and collect any necessary documentation from the lender.

8. Community involvement. This is a category that is imperative. If an agent is not involved in his community, and does not participate in local events, than does he truly know what is going on in the area, enough to sell a home there? Involvement includes keeping the community educated on happenings, both in the national and hyper-local real estate markets. Blogging and video are the best ways to share this knowledge. I personally also teach seminars for distressed homeowners who are facing foreclosure, and have held webinars to train agents in this category, so they are better prepared to help their clients. This part of the job is a constant, and it is how an agent can give back to the community and keep her finger on it’s pulse.

9. Continuing education. Rules and laws are constantly changing, both on a national, state and local level. Realtors must keep up with these, and attend seminars and conferences to learn how to work in this new world with all the changes. These include legal, technological, and ethical, plus local housing restrictions and regulations.

The above is not a complete list of things a Realtor does every day, but I hope that it sheds some light on the demands of an agent. Our job is to help our clients, and to truly do so means to work hard and stay involved.

 

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Why Is It Difficult for Investors to Buy Condos?

Friday, December 16th, 2011

In the last several months I have seen my investor clients face some big challenges in purchasing condominiums. I have had two sales almost fall apart in the 11th hour – luckily both buyers were able to close with cash at the last minute. There are a few roadblocks investors need to watch out for if they are considering condo investments.

1.  Owner occupancy rates below 51%. This issue is the most frustrating. In order to get a loan a complex must have an owner occupancy rate above 51%. Many complexes in the lower price ranges do not, and they are magnets for cash investors because of the low prices. If your investor needs to get a loan the lender needs to establish the occupancy ratios. The problem is that many times the information from the property management company confirming this is not received in a timely manner.

No matter what the reason, this is becoming a bigger problem for investors who need to obtain loans to purchase income property. I spend a lot of time conferring with my title representative to get owner occupancy information for complexes BEFORE I write offers. But today a mortgage colleague pointed out to me that the title companies may not have the most current information, and that I need to obtain that from the management companies. This creates another issue – many of these companies charge for this information, sometimes around $50. So who is to pay this money – the Realtor, the buyer? What if you have to research 5 or 10 different complexes to find one that will work…this could add up to a lot of money out of pocket.

There simply has to be a better way to find out this information, other than writing an offer and wasting everyone’s time (plus taking the property off the market, which precludes other offers the seller may have been able to obtain during that time).

2.  HOA lawsuits. This is another sale killer, and one that an investor client of mine just experienced – luckily she too was able to close with cash. The problem here is when the HOA is named as a defendant in a lawsuit, the lender likely will not issue a loan on the property. In my case, the HOA was suing a former owner for back HOA dues, and he in turn countersued the HOA, claiming it told him his dues would be waived in lieu of doing some construction work on the complex for the HOA. Apparently this was never in writing, so it could be a frivolous suit, but the lender still sees it as a suit against the HOA, which makes it a risky loan. It is unfortunate they cannot look at individual circumstances, but that of course would be time consuming.

3.  Too many mortgages. If an investor buyer has several mortgages s/he may have problems with financing a subsequent property. Buyers and agents need to speak with mortgage professionals before writing any offers, to make sure they understand whether they will qualify for another loan. Even so, I had one investor buyer who was told he would qualify, and in the 11th hour it did not work out. You need to be careful and allow time to research these things.

If you are an investor buyer, or if you are a real estate agent who works with one, you need to be careful and discuss these potential pitfalls with your client(s), as they can definitely create problems. Best to be prepared and try to gather as much information as possible before your client makes an offer. If you have any stories of failed investor purchases please share them below.

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Did Realtors Lie?

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Realtors, like lawyers and car salespeople, have not always had the best reputation (there are those of us who make it our mission to disprove the myths, but I digress). The latest scandal certainly does not help the industry: a report was released today that home sales in the last 5 years were misreported across the country and that the true sales volume is actually lower. Will this hurt the housing market, and how could it happen?

The National Association of Realtors is the agency that keeps track of home sales across the country. Apparently, when tracking the number of resale homes since 2007, some sales were counted twice, and some new home sales slipped into the tally. It all has something to do with relying on census numbers, which only come out every ten years. The Association claims home sales will be unaffected by this mishap.

So the bottom line is that less homes were sold since 2007 than were originally reported. We will have to wait and see the true numbers, and whether it will effect the market at all, although it is doubtful. And no, this appears to be an innocent mis-reporting, not a lie.

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Avoid Foreclosure and Stay in Your Home: Deeds for Lease Programs

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

We have heard news of deed for lease programs rumbling for some time, but Bank of America announced this week that it will begin making them a reality. What this means is that struggling homeowners will be able to turn their deeds over the the bank, and then sign a lease to stay in their homes as renters. There is a lot of controversy over these programs, but lenders are attempting to find ways to avoid more foreclosures and feel this may be one way to do so.

Here’s how the plan would work: the bank would approach troubled homeowners before a foreclosure to see if they would be interested in staying in the home as tenants. The bank would then short sell the home to investors, who would handle the leases. The owners would have less of a credit impact because they would have a short sale instead of a foreclosure, but they would also be able to build up their credit because they would be instant tenants.

Those who are against these programs argue that homeowners, who cannot afford their mortgages any longer, are being rewarded by not  having to go through foreclosure and then being able to stay in their homes as renters. [In typical short sales most lenders forbid homeowners to rent back the homes after a short sale because they do not want the homeowner to benefit in any way from the sale.] They are afraid it will encourage many others to do the same.

Those in favor of these programs say that it will prevent so many foreclosures and will help to build the market back up – with less foreclosed properties and vacant properties, values will stop falling. Plus, the lack of vacant homes will strengthen those neighborhoods hard hit by foreclosure.

No matter what side you are on, this is one program that may actually help build the market back up over time, if enough homes can make the cut. It will be interesting to watch and see what happens.

 

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Too Much Going On? Get Organized

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

This is definitely the time of year many people feel there is simply too much going on. It is easy to become overwhelmed – we need to tie up our end of the year business, finish projects, visit doctors, plan parties and holidays, buy gifts, spend money…it can be maddening. Throw in the fast paced nature of our lives, with all the mobile connectedness – and it is enough to drive us crazy.

This morning my sixth grader woke up and realized she forgot to study for two tests today. This is my A student, who never has to be reminded to do her homework. Yesterday after school she did her homework and then had a few girlfriends over – a rarity, as there is usually too much homework (most kids barely have time for sports, after school activities and, hey what a concept – just being kids). She started off her day worried and stressed – not the ideal situation I want for my child.

The point is that we all need to be a little more organized, a little less anally retentive, and realize that we will get through it. I am thinking of hiring an assistant. I have finally come to admit that I cannot do it all myself. Delegation is permissible; I can still direct and approve. If we want to be the best at what we do, whether it be our job, parenting, or anything else, the key is organization. Believe it or not, the tech-savvy world is on your side on this one, and there are easy ways you can stay organized and be able to do it all.

Use your smart phone calendars. Yes, these devices are a blessing – allowing us to work from our children’s soccer games, access our desktops from out of state, or send documents in an instant. We also need to learn there is a time to turn them off. But for organizational purposes they really are beneficial. Use the calendars on your phones, set reminders for yourself. This is the best way to stay organized.

Organizational Apps. If you need extra help, there are organizational apps available on your smart phones. I do not personally use these, but for those who need extra help I have heard they are fantastic.

Make a daily schedule. Every morning I write down a list of what I need to accomplish that day. Of course, things can change in an instant, but I know that my goal is to get through that list as best I can. I number it in order of importance. If I don’t get to everything it is not the end of the world, but I know that the most important things will get accomplished. I check my phone calendar as I make my list, and make sure I am in sync with what needs to be addressed.

Schedule personal time in advance. I schedule personal time right into my calendar each weekend, for the week. I put my workout and yoga schedule into my phone, so I know that I cannot make any appointments during that time. This way I am not trying to fit exercise into my busy schedule, but instead I am building my schedule around my health. This benefits not only me, but my clients and workload, because I feel better and can be more efficient.

Use free time to stay in contact/learn/plan. If you end up having free slots during your workday, that is the best time to do several things: call or visit your clients, catch up on reading industry news and blogs, and planning for the upcoming week. Take a client or colleague to lunch or coffee. Staying in contact with your clients and colleagues is the best way to stay on top of industry information and show people how much you appreciate them. This is my favorite thing to do.

Most people who have a high degree of stress in their business lives are not well organized. We can ALL be better organized, even if we think we are already there. This is a great time of year to look at your business plan and make those necessary tweaks, to reconnect, plan ahead and focus on your goals. It may seem overwhelming, but staying organized will benefit you in the long run.

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Four Traits Every Realtor Should Possess

Monday, December 5th, 2011

No matter what business you are in, if you work with people there are some things you should always do if you want to be successful. By successful I don’t mean financially, although if you do possess these qualities that will follow, but successful in making your clients truly feel well cared for. For Realtors, it’s not just about closing the sale, but making sure our clients are represented properly, are informed throughout the process, and that they have a strong partner and watchdog from beginning to end.

If you want to make sure you are giving your clients the best,  you need to possess the following traits. This by no means is the entire list, but those which I feel are the most important.

1.  Listening skills. If you cannot truly listen to your clients than you may want to find another business. Listening is key to understanding your client’s goals and desires, their fears and insecurities. There is nothing more important than being a good listener, since you are representing your client’s interests. It will also give you an understanding so that if you need to tackle tough issues you know how to approach them without offending your client, creating anger or stress, or coming across like you do not care. In our fast-paced world it is easy to want to move along quickly, but take the time to really listen…you will be amazed at how much easier it makes your job, AND how much happier your clients will be!

2.  Honesty and humility.  Honesty and trust must be earned, and that is especially true in fiduciary relationships, like Realtor-client. Explain everything, take time to point out the possibilities and consequences of each action, even if your client is an experienced home buyer or seller. If a client asks to do something that does not feel comfortable, let them know. Trust your instincts. Always be humble and use praise as a tool – compliments are wonderful, and you should be happy. But also tell yourself that you need to keep learning, keep educating, so that you can continue to provide the best service as the market fluctuates and needs change.

3.  Accessibility. Nothing makes me more frustrated than a representative who is inaccessible. If you are helping me through  something, you better be there when I have questions or need something! So many Realtors do not heed this advice, and I think this is one of the biggest mistakes one can make. You surely are not helping your clients or colleagues if you don’t answer your calls, emails, and texts in a timely manner.

4.  Respect for colleagues. It’s not just about your clients, but also your colleagues – other Realtors, escrow officers, mortgage professionals, title reps and others with whom you work. If you have a listing you need to call people back, provide information that is requested. Not doing so has a big impact on your own clients, and on your reputation in the industry as well.

None of the above traits are any you have not heard of in the past. But it is important to remind ourselves, especially in such a crazy world and an evolving market, that beneath it all we are simply human. Sure, we all want to make a living, but the only way we will survive this business is by putting our clients first and treating everyone with respect (even those peers who don’t seem to deserve it), including ourselves.

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Weekly News REcap 12-2-2011

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Happy December everyone! I can’t believe the year is almost at an end (we won’t mention that I am completely unprepared for the holidays either). Here is what has been happening in the real estate market this week.

Foreclosure Moratorium for the Holidays. Some lenders are finding kindness in their heart to put in place foreclosure moratoria over the holidays, like they have done in the last few years. Fannie and Freddie have already announced a temporary moratorium on all foreclosures of single family homes and 2-4 unit properties for the holiday period, and all evictions will be delayed until after the New Year. California groups like Occupy L.A. and Occupy Santa Cruz are also trying to get lenders in their respective counties to place moratoria on foreclosures for the holidays. If you are facing foreclosure you can call your lender to see if they have instituted such a policy.

Fewer American Homowners are Underwater. A new study just published by CoreLogic concludes that the number of Americans whose homes are “underwater” (they owe more on their mortgage(s) than the current value of their homes) has decreased to 1 in 5. It used to be 1 in 4, so this sounds like good news, although there will be more foreclosures to come due to the large amount of negative equity in the housing market.

Reverse mortgages to have new requirements, may make it harder to qualify. Getting a reverse mortgage may soon be more difficult. Reverse loan originators will soon begin looking at the financial status of applicants, to see if they are able to cover the costs of homeowners insurance and property tax. The goal is to prevent future defaults. Reverse mortgages are obtained by borrowers over 62, and allow them to convert the equity in their homes into cash, which is used to live on. The loan is due, with interest, at the time the owners die, move, sell the home, or fail to pay homeowners’ insurance or property taxes.

Home values have declined in most markets; buying cheaper than renting in many places. According to a study by the Wall Street Journal it is cheaper to buy rather than rent a home in 12 major metropolitan markets. Home values also have declined in all but 5 markets. Low mortgage rates and timing make this a great time to buy for many buyers, and prices are predicted to continue to decline, mostly due to distressed sales. To read more on this study click here.

 

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San Diego December Events Calendar

Thursday, December 1st, 2011
December 1 – 17
North Pole Limited Santa Train
Celebrate the holidays aboard the North Pole Limited for a 90-minute holiday ride. Santa’s Elves will serve cookies and hot chocolate, lead a sing-along of traditional Christmas carols and read a famous Christmas train story as the Limited rockets toward the North Pole and Santa’s Workshop where Santa Claus will board the train and visit with all the children. The Elves invite the children to wear their pajamas and dress warmly.
Ride Times:  5:00 pm – 6:30 pm  or  7:00 pm – 8:30 pm  according to date.
Location:  Pacific SouthWest Railway Museum, Hwy 94 & Forrest Gate Rd., Campo
For more information visit www.psrm.org

December 2
Coronado Christmas Parade
Santa arrives by ferry at the Coronado Ferry Landing. A festive parade along Orange Avenue follows. Santa lights the 75-foot star pine Christmas tree located in the center of town as the community band plays holiday music. Snow Mountain is open from 3:00 to 8:00 pm. The evening finishes with 2 concerts at 2 different locations.
Time:  3:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Location:  Ferry Landing Marketplace, Coronado
For more information visit www.coronadovisitorcenter.com

December 2
Annual Lemon Grove Community Bonfire
The City of Lemon Grove will be celebrating the holiday season by providing free family fun for everyone. Along with the bonfire there will be games, face painting, laser tag, live music, horse-drawn carriage rides and free refreshments.
Time:  6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Location:  Civic Center Park, 3200 Main St. (Olive & Church)
For more information visit www.ci.lemon-grove.ca.us

December 2-3
Balboa Park December Nights
Balboa Park holiday extravaganza featuring two days of light displays, musical & dance presentations, plus shopping, and holiday food & spirits. Participating museums will be free to the public from 5:00 to 9:00 each evening.
Time:  Fri.  5:00 pm – 10:00 pm / Sat.  Noon – 10:00 pm
Location:  Balboa Park, Near El Pardo, Organ Pavilion & Museums
For more information visit www.balboapark.org

December 3,
Annual Ocean Beach Parade and Craft Fair
Every year Newport Ave is taken over by the geriatric surf team, motorcycle riding dogs and marching bands – plus Santa Claus on a fire truck! Come early to get a spot, there is parking throughout the neighborhood. A craft fair is also held on the Lawn at Veteran’s Plaza.
Time:  Parade starts at 5:05 pm
Location:  Newport Ave., Sunset Cliffs Blvd. to Abbott St., Ocean Beach
For more information visit www.oceanbeachsandiego.com

December 3
Holiday Tree Lighting & Winter Wonderland
The Center will sparkle with dancing lights as patrons enjoy seasonal music and Victorian Carolers, a special visit from Santa, a spectacular light show, and real snow! Kids will enjoy free art activities, costumed entertainers and free treats.
Time:  4:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Location:  California Center for the Arts, Lyric Court & Great Green Lawn at the Center, Escondido
For more information visit www.artcenter.org

December 3,
Annual Christmas comes to Imperial Beach
A festive holiday time for the whole family to enjoy with arts and crafts, food, a petting zoo with pony rides, a large game zone for the children and live entertainment. Santa arrives at noon on a fire truck.
Time:  12:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Location:  Imperial Beach, Portwood Pier Plaza, Seacoast Dr. at Imperial Beach Blvd.
For more information visit www.ib-chamber.com

December 3
Annual North Park Toyland Parade & Holiday Fair
This is a large-scale parade with marching bands, upbeat dance groups, cool vintage cars, beauty queens, city officials, and Santa Claus will be riding atop his merry red sleigh.
Time:  11:00 am – 2:00 pm
Parade Route: University Ave starting at Utah Street and ending at Iowa St.
For more information visit www.toylandparade.com

December 3
Annual Little Italy Christmas Village & Tree Lighting
Little Italy becomes a Holiday Village where shoppers and residents will enjoy the season’s festivities with holiday music, light refreshments, Santa, and the lighting of a Christmas tree.
Time:  4:00 pm – 7:30 pm
Location:  Little Italy, corner of W. Date & India Streets
For more information visit www.littleitalysd.com

December 3
Encinitas Holiday Parade
The Encinitas Christmas Parade includes floats, marching bands, children’s groups, specialty cars and patriotic organizations.
Time:  Tree lighting at 5:00 pm / Parade at 5:30 pm
Location:  Parade route travels South Coast Highway 101, starting at the corner of D St., ending at J St.
For more information visit www.ci.encinitas.ca.us

December 3-4
San Marcos Santa’s Magical Village
Handcrafted holiday gifts for sale, dancers, elves, and carolers perform. A child-size magical village will offer free activities for kids.
Time:  Sat.  3:00 pm – 8:00 pm. Tree lighting at 6:45 pm / Sun.  9:00 am – 4:00
Location:  San Marcos Community Center, 3 Civic Center Dr., San Marcos
For more information visit www.ci.san-marcos.ca.us

December 4
Annual La Jolla Christmas Parade
This Annual Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival will have musical performances, tasty foods, and an antique plane flyover.
Time:  Festival 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm / Parade 2:00 pm
Location:  La Jolla Recreation Center, 615 Prospect St., La Jolla
For more information visit www.ljparade.com

December 9
Annual Alpine Village Christmas Parade of Lights & Snow Festival
The parade starts along Alpine Blvd & W. Victoria, ending with a festival at Alpine Creek Town Center.  Festivities include a snow hill, Santa, Ronald McDonald Magic Show, activities for kids & teens, game truck and food.
Time:  Parade starts at 6:30 pm / Festival starts at 7:00 pm
Location:  Parade starts at Alpine Blvd., and W. Victoria, Alpine  /
Festival is at Alpine Creek Town Center, 1347 Tavern Road, Alpine
For more information visit www.AlpineChamber.com

December 10
Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights
A decorated and lighted boat procession will parade in single file on Mission Bay, some broadcasting holiday music.
Time:  7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Location:  Mission Bay – begins at Quivira Basin, and along Crown Point, Vacation Island, Fiesta Island, & Sea World.
Best viewing areas for this event is from Crown Point, or the west side of Fiesta Island,
or the east side of Vacation Island.
For more information visit www.mbyc.org

December 10
Oceanside Harbor Boat Parade of Lights
All decked out for the holiday, a wide variety of boats circle the inner Oceanside Harbor. A spectacular sight.
Time:  7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Location:  Oceanside Harbor – best viewed from along the side of the harbor near the Harbor Police and fishing dock.
For more information visit www.visitoceanside.org

December 18
Annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights
The Annual Port of San Diego Boat Parade of Lights features a large fleet of private craft decorated and illuminated for the holidays. The boat parade will travel a 7-mile route from Shelter Island to Coronado.
Time:  5:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Location:  San Diego Bay – Begins at the southwest end of Shelter Island, past Harbor Island, the Embarcadero,
Seaport Village, past the Convention Center, the Coronado Island Marriott Hotel, the Coronado Ferry Landing Marketplace and ends at the Navy carrier turning basin.
For more information visit www.sdparadeoflights.org

December 21
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
The game pits a team from the Mountain West Conference against a bowl-eligible Pac-10 team or an at-large opponent.
Time:  5:00 pm
Location:  San Diego Qualcomm Stadium, 9449 Friars Rd.
For more information visit www.poinsettiabowl.net

December 28
Port of San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade
America’s Largest Balloon Parade! Massive inflatables, numbering more than any other parade in the nation.
Time:  10:00 am
Location:  Downtown San Diego – Begins at the County Admin Bldg parking lot, down North Harbor Drive and follows the waterfront, ending at West Harbor Dr.
For more information visit http://www.holidaybowl.com/events/port-of-san-diego-big-bay-balloon-parade.html

December 31
Kids’ New Year’s Eve at Legoland
“Midnight at 6:00 pm” — a one-of-a-kind Kids’ New Year’s Eve Party. The party kicks off at 3:00 pm with performances by some of the top children’s entertainment groups as we countdown to the New Year. At 6:00 pm a huge LEGO® brick will drop 22-feet into 2012 and there will be a dazzling fireworks display.
Time:  3:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Location:  Legoland, One Legoland Dr., Carlsbad
For more information visit http://california.legoland.com/
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