Archive for April, 2012

San Diego May Calendar of Events

Monday, April 30th, 2012

May 4
28th Annual Old Town Cinco de Mayo
Old Town comes alive with a celebration of art, culture, and history of the 1800’s.  Ride in a horse drawn stagecoach, enjoy music, carnival rides and
games, car show, chalk art, riding and roping show, Mexican wrestling, and
other activities.  Visit museums and specialty shops, and dine on delicious
food and drink. Free.
Time:  Fri.  5:00 pm – 10:00 pm / Sat. 11:00 am – 10:00 pm / Sun. 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Location:  Old Town State Historical Park, San Diego Ave.
For more information visit www.fiestaoldtown.com

May 5
The Salvation Army 3rd Annual Spring Fling Festival
This festival will feature dozens of local crafters in indoor and outdoor booths.  There will also be live musical entertainment and a fun carnival zone for the kids.  A special feature will be the Silent Auction featuring donations from many
San Diego businesses.
Time:  9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Location:  The Salvation Army, 4170 Balboa Ave., Clairemont
For more information visit www.sandiegocitadel.com

May 5-6
Escondido Renaissance Faire
Travel back to the 16th century and the glories of the reign of Elizabeth the First.  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.  There is an admission fee, which covers all entertainment.
Time:  10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Location:  Felicita County Park, 742 Clarence Lane, Escondido

May 6
16th Annual Festival Cinco de Mayo – Chula Vista
Festival guests will receive a true cultural experience as they sway with Mexican dancers, peruse the work of local artisans and taste authentic south of the border cuisine.  Tune in for a Mariachi Band Battle at one of the two festival stages in addition to the popular Kids Fun Zone.  Come join the 30,000 community members who enjoy this celebration of Hispanic culture.
Time:  11:00 am – 7:00 pm
Location:  Downtown Chula Vista, Third Avenue
For more information visit http://www.thirdavenuevillage.com

May 6
Carlsbad Spring Village Faire
The largest one day fair in California.  Features hundreds of exhibitors with a little of everything such as arts and crafts, antiques, clothing, a large variety of food stands serving International foods, and children’s rides.
Time:  8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Location:  Carlsbad Village
For more information visit www.kennedyfaires.com/carlsbad

May 11-13
11th Annual Gator by the Bay
A family event featuring Zydeco and Cajun bands, Blues bands and community musical groups performing on multiple stages.  Enjoy Cajun and Creole food, cooking demonstrations, strolling entertainers, dance lessons, and more.
Time:  Refer to website for schedule
Location:  Spanish Landing Park at Harbor Island – Harbor Drive – San Diego Bay
For more information visit www.gatorbythebay.com

May 12
Asian Cultural Festival of San Diego
Enjoy musical performances, costumed dancing, martial arts, craft-making, merchandise booths, cultural exhibits and cooking demonstration. There will be a food court, picnic area, and a kid’s area.
Time:  10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Location:  Liberty Station – NTC Park, near Cushing & Roosevelt Rds, Point Loma
For more information visit www.asianculturalfestivalsd.com

May 13
4th Annual Mother’s Day Fancy Dress Swim
Fundraiser for World Swims Against Malaria.  Mothers will “dip” in the ocean wearing their Mother’s Day finest.  A five dollar donation is all that is needed for this World Swim Against Malaria.
Time:  10:00 am – 11:00 am
Location:  Oceanside Pier, Oceanside
For more information visit www.onesandiego.org/

May 16-20
Ocean Beach: Beach Ball Festival
An outdoor live music, action sports, and microbrew festival.  Lots of food, merchandise, beach volleyball games, a big ferris wheel, a waterslide, mechanical bull rides and a human hauler contest.
Time:  Wed.-Fri. 12:00 pm – 10:00 pm / Sat. 10:00 am – 10:00 pm / Sun. 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Location:  Ocean Beach: Saratoga Park, Veterans Plaza, Lifeguard & Municipal Pier Parking Lots
For more information visit www.oceanbeachsandiego.com

May 19
24th Annual Tierrasanta Patriot’s Day
Celebrate Armed Forces Day with a delicious BBQ dinner under a shaded canopy while listening to pleasant music.  There will be  a beer & wine garden, game area for kids, raffles, dancing, plus a fireworks show.
Time:  4:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Location:  Tierrasanta Recreation Center, 11220 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Tierrasanta
For more information call 858-268-0044

May 19-20
7th Annual Encinitas Sports Festival
Join 300 of your closest friends and family for two days of sports and fun in Encinitas. The City becomes a sports destination the weekend before Memorial Day and you don’t want to miss it.  Triathlons, Duathlon, Bike Tours, 5K Run, Kids and Family 1K Walk/Run, Moonlight Beach Paddle & Swim, and a 2-day sports expo.
Time:  Refer to website for schedule
Location:  Encinitas – various locations, refer to website
For more information visit www.encinitasrace.com/esff.html

May 20
Annual North Park Festival of the Arts
An explosion of arts, culture and entertainment with live entertainment, specialty booths, food court, beer garden, Kid’s Art Beat, and tons more!
Time:  10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Location:  North Park – University Ave. & 30th St.
For more information visit www.northparkfestivalofarts.com

May 20
26th Annual Navy’s Original Bay Bridge Run/Walk
A running and walking event across the Coronado Bay Bridge is a rare opportunity, and now is the time to do it!  The route begins downtown and proceeds across the bridge to the Coronado Island to Tidelands Park, concluding with fun festivities.
Time:  7:00 am – 12:00 pm
Location:  Bayfront Hilton Parking Lot, One Park Blvd., San Diego
For more information visit www.mwrtoday.com

May 20
19th Annual Sicilian Festival
Celebrate Sicilian-Italian American heritage and enjoy delicious cuisine from local restaurants in a festive setting in Little Italy.  Music, beer, wine, dancing, ethnic art & craft items to browse.  Free.
Time:  10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Location:  Little Italy, Downtown San Diego
For more information visit www.sicilianfesta.com

May 20
Escondido Street Faire
This faire will feature live entertainment as well as over 600 booths showcasing arts & crafts, unique clothing, and international foods.  Children’s rides, rock climbing wall, and more!
Time:  10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Location:  Downtown Escondido, Grand Ave. between Center City Pkwy and lvy.
For more information visit www.kennedyfaires.com/escondido

May 26
Santee Street Fair
Live bands, entertainment, food, arts & crafts, vendor booths, beer garden.  In just three years the Santee Street Fair has become one of the best events in town.  Over 300 food and vendor booths, 3 stages of live music and entertainment, and fun rides.
Time:  10:00 am – 7:00 pm
Location:  Santee Town Center – behind Santee Trolley Square, Mission Gorge Rd., Santee
For more information visit www.santeestreetfair.com


May 27
Annual Ethnic Food Fair
A cultural food festival at Balboa Park will be offering a delicious assortment of ethnic foods along with entertaining costumed performances.  Free.
Time:  10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Location:  Balboa Park, House of Pacific Relations International Cottages
For more information visit www.sdhpr.org

May 27
Vista Strawberry Festival
Strawberries will be the main event along with a 5K Fun Run and Kids Runs, as well as 200+ vendors at our street fair, carnival rides, a Strawberry Pie Eating contest, Strawberry Idol, Ms. Strawberry Shortcake, and much more!  Free admission.
Time:  7:00 am – 4:00 pm
Location:  Downtown Vista, 127 Main St., Downtown Vista
For more information visit www.vvba.org
Thank you to Lawyer’s Title for the above events schedule
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Tastefully Remodeled Vista Townhome

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

If you are looking for a fantastic home, at a low price that you can just move right into, look no further. This bright Vista townhome has it all, and a full remodel was just completed – everything is brand new and waiting for you! Offered at $209,000.

Features:

• 1365 square feet, 3 stories (plus entry/garage level)

• Dual master suites with walk-in closets and two full bathrooms

• Brand new kitchen – new cabinets, stainless steel undermount sink, stainless appliances, black granite counters, custom tile backsplash

• Hardwood flooring throughout living areas and kitchen

• New tile flooring in downstairs hallway and bathrooms

• New designer carpeting in bedrooms and on stairs

• Newly remodeled bathrooms with custom wood/granite vanities, new fixtures

• New fixtures throughout, new thick baseboards, custom paint throughout

• Remodeled fireplace with granite base and travertine tile frame, plus new mantle

• New front landscaping and new entry door

• New window blinds

• Attached two car garage, inside laundry closet

• Balcony off living room

• Cathedral ceilings in living and bedroom

• Small yard area – could likely be fenced

• Community pool, spa and clubhouse

• HOA dues only $260/month, no mello roos

• Close to beach, shopping, dining, highways

• Move-in ready! MLS #120021492

To view photos and video tour click here.

 

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Short Sale News

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

There have been many changes happening in the short sale arena, so if you are a buyer considering a short sale, or a seller thinking of selling short, here is the latest news:

New rules in June for lenders. Starting this June, most of the big banks will face new requirements that will hopefully change the length of short sale approvals. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have drafted new policies that will require lenders to review and respond to all short sale requests within 30 days of receipt. The lenders will have 60 days after receipt of an offer to make a final decision. If the lender has an offer under review for more than 30 days,  it will be required to provide weekly updates. Sounds like good news for short sale buyers and sellers, but will it lead to more short sale rejections if the lenders can’t get it together within the new timelines? Let’s hope not.

End of the year expiration on short sale tax liability still in effect – clock ticking to avoid taxation. I have discussed this in other blogs, but in case you need a reminder the Mortgage Relief Debt Forgiveness Act is set to expire on December 31 of this year. This means that unless it is extended once again all short sales could be subject to federal income taxation after that time. The act, which was created in 2007, allows short sales sellers to avoid federal taxation on the cancelled debt (the difference between the sales price and amount owed on the mortgage). For example, if you have a mortgage of $500,000 and short sell your home for $300,000, you could be liable for federal taxation on the $200,000. If you are considering a short sale, now is the time – contact an experienced short sale agent in your area.

Fastest Short Sale Lenders Report is Out. RealtyTrac recently released a report on which lenders are fastest with short sale timelines. The winner is Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac and FHA. Ally Bank came in second. Bank of America and Wells Fargo were at the bottom of the top 10 list. Read the DS News article to learn more.

Short Sale Surge Predicted for 2012. RealtyTrac released another important report as of late, which outlines the increase in pre-foreclosure sales (namely short sales). The study found a 33% year-over-year increase in these sales; the number in California is higher, at 52%. The downward trend of short sales is no more, and short sales have outnumbered REO (lender-owned property) listings in 12 states, including California. Based on this trend the report, and likely considering the end of the Mortgage Debt Relief Foregiveness Act, 2012 could be a big year for short sales.

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Your Real Estate Agent Did WHAT?

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Real estate agents or any professionals, take heed: Do you edit everything you send out? Do you read EVERY document the other side sends over involved with a sale? Do you read the contract (even better yet, have you EVER really read the contract in it’s entirety)?

In the real estate profession, as well as many others, there are those who are detail oriented, those who are completely sloppy, and just about all kinds of people somewhere in between. But it will never cease to amaze me when agents do not check their work product before sending it out. There is absolutely no excuse, as you are dealing with contracts that have legal ramifications.

If you represent somebody in a legal transaction, you better make sure you do the following – not only is the risk of a lawsuit great, but your entire reputation is on the line. As an agent, you are required to represent your clients to the best of your ability. If you cannot do so, you may need to seek another profession.

Representation Basics:

1.  Read. This is so basic a requirement, yet it never ceases to amaze me how many agents do not read contracts, both before and after they have written them. First of all, if you have never read the required forms, you should! Once you have filled it in on behalf of a client, make sure you go over it with a fine tooth comb and fill in items you may have missed, change those that need changing, etc. If you forget to check or uncheck a box, it could cost your clients money, heartache, loss of a sale or subject them to a lawsuit. They are trusting you!

2.  Explain. It is important to go over the contract with your clients before and after it is written. Explain to them what the terms mean, and make sure that you have conveyed their wishes properly.

3.  Proof/edit. This instruction applies not just to a contract or other document you have written, but to everything you do. I am often dumbfounded by some of the marketing pieces I receive in the mail from real estate agents – typos, improper grammar, unfocused photos, blurry words…I would never send anything out like that! Even some big agents in my area do, and it usually makes me both laugh and feel angry…after all, it doesn’t raise the bar too high for the rest of us, does it?

4.  Put all communications in writing. As a lawyer I know how important this is – even if your client is your family member. If you have a conversation with a client, make sure to send a message referencing what you discussed, and keep all communications in an email folder. If anything happens down the road, like a lawsuit, this is the only way you will be able to prove what was discussed.

5.  Admit when you don’t know the answer, and get help or advice! It is ok to not know the answers sometimes – we all face this issue, and we are only human. Admit that you do not know and then find someone who does. This applies to tricky situations too, where you have to make a call. Getting the feedback of another whom you trust (like your broker, or if you are the broker, another trusted broker or attorney) could be a major difference in the outcome. The California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.) has a free legal hotline for members, as most associations do – take advantage of it.

6.  Do your homework first. No matter what you do you need to investigate before submitting any offers, taking any listings, or venturing into a short sale or lender owned property. Contact your title representative and find out if title is clean and find out about liens on the property. Contact the listing agent and make sure s/he knows what they are doing if it is a distressed property. Pull up the assessor record. Don’t ever jump into something blindly without knowledge of what you may be getting into – it simply isn’t fair to your clients.

7.  Always act professionally. This applies not only to your interactions with your clients, but also to fellow real estate agents and brokers. There are too many people in many industries who do not treat others in a professional manner. Eventually you will sink yourself with a bad rap if you can’t be a true professional. Real estate agents all know whom they don’t want to work with in their area…you don’t want to be that person.

As in any profession, there are always bad seeds who will tarnish things for the group as a whole, but if we all make sure that we do right by our clients, colleagues and by ourselves, we will not only make others happy, but we will also feel happier and have a productive career.

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Why It’s Important to Trust Your Real Estate Agent

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

a·gent

[ey•juhnt]  noun  1. a person or business authorized to act on another’s behalf  (via Dictionary.com).

Those who have worked with a good real estate agent understand the value such an agent adds to the purchase or sale of a home. Sure, you can sell your home by yourself, and you can search for homes on your own as well, but the skills of a seasoned agent can help you through tricky situations, where a decision can make or break a sale. Let’s look at some of the things a good agent can offer a buyer or seller.

Experience. An agent’s experience with multiple issues can be helpful to a buyer or seller. These issues can include how to negotiate with a particular agent, trends in a certain neighborhood, advice in tough situations, staging and showing advice in a sale, and numerous other issues that an agent may have encountered during her career. All this experience is a benefit to a buyer or seller.

Advice. This goes hand in hand with experience. Agents know their hyper local market well. They understand trends in different areas and neighborhoods, and can compare and contrast a property  to recent comparable properties. This is helpful in deciding at what price to write or counter an offer – such knowledge can be critical in multiple offer situations, where there is a big price discrepancy, or other issues regarding the home  that could alter the value. A good agent’s advice could mean the difference between a sale and a cancelled contract.

Legal issue avoidance. Many people seem to forget that selling or buying a home involves legal paperwork, and can lead to lawsuits if the paperwork is not filled out properly, or if things are not handled correctly. A good agent will not only make sure that you are doing everything correctly to avoid litigation down the road, but will be able to offer advice and discuss options so that this type of situation does not become reality. Think of it as someone looking out for your best interests.

Getting you in the door first (literally). If you are a buyer and work with an agent who is really in touch with the local market, you have a big advantage. In the last year I have helped several clients purchase homes before they came on the MLS, all because I either knew about an upcoming listing or because I did research and found distressed sellers who were about to sell their homes. These sales worked out great for my clients, because they made offers before the properties hit the MLS, with no competition from other buyers. It is another plus of working with an agent who is on top of things.

All in all, it is important to have a trusting relationship with your real estate agent. You should be able to discuss things with your agent and be aware of the ramifications of your decisions throughout the sales process, whether you are buying or selling real estate. Listen to your agent’s advice before making a decision – agents work for you, and with your best interests in mind.

 

 

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Daily Life Lessons

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

I had a wonderful holiday weekend wth my family, and it got me thinking about the lessons the holidays- Passover and Easter – can teach us. Both honor freedom, rebirth, involve family gatherings and being thankful. These are great opportunities for us to teach our children about what is truly important in life, and provide reminders for us as well. Let’s take a look at some of the important lessons we can learn:

1. Be kind. Holidays always involve kindness, as we all gather together and share a meal. I always tell my children that kindness is the best quality one can possess. Carrying over that wonderful feeling you have during the holidays to every day make you feel good and invites more positive energy into your life.

2. Spend time with family. My favorite part of any holiday is to spend time with my family. This is what it’s all about, what’s really important in life. If we don’t have connections, we lose our sense of self. There is nothing in life more important.

3. Appreciate. On holidays, as with any time we spend with loved ones and take time to relax, we tend to be reminded of how lucky we are, of how much we have to be thankful for. It’s easy to forget to feel appreciative once we get back into our normal routines. But setting aside a time every day to feel appreciation is a great idea, and will also keep you happier.

4. Be strong. Don’t forget the happy feelings you have over the holidays, and take time each day to be with those you love and enjoy a bit of relaxation.

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Upcoming Holiday Events in North San Diego

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Easter is just days away, and there are lots of fun things to do in North San Diego for the entire family! Here are a few of the highlights:

Carlsbad EGGstravaganza: On Saturday, April 7, this annual celebration will be held at Poinsettia Park from 10:00-1:00. There will be a fun zone with lots of games, food, music and activities, a summer day camp expo, and of course, an egg hunt. It’s great fun for the whole family. For more information click the city website, or call 760-434-2843. Tickets and Fun Zone wristbands are available at Calavera Hills, Harding and Stagecoach Community Centers.

GIA Egg-stravaganza: The Gemological Institute of America in Carlsbad is hosting an Egg-stravaganza of a different, shiny sort. Stop by on Thursday, April 5th all day to see their rare collection of eggs, made from minerals and gems, a collection that has never been on display and has been in collection for 40 years. The exhibit runs through the end of the year. For more information and for directions click  here.

San Diego Botanic Garden Spring Party. Come on over on Saturday, April 7 from 10:00-11:30, or 11:30-1:00 and enjoy the Spring garden party at our amazing Botanic Garden. There is a limit of 50 children per party, and tickets are $12-15 per child, so make sure to check the website to see if there is still room for your child.

Birch Aquarium Eggs-travaganza: Stop by the beautiful Birch Aquarium in La Jolla April 4-7 from 11:00-3:00 to see ocean creatures at this special time of year when they are hatched/born. There are lots of hands-on activities for participants. Visit the website  for more information.

Encinitas Easter Egg Hunt: Come join in the fun in this other favorite egg hunt, which takes place Saturday, April 5th from 10:00-1:00 at Ecke Sports Park. For more information and directions call 760-633-2740.

More Egg Hunts Across North County on Saturday, April 7:

Del Mar

Oceanside

San Marcos & San Elijo Hills

Cardiff by the Sea: Call 760-633-2740 for information

Solana Beach Call 858-720-2453

Carmel Valley: Call 858-552-1616

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Short Sales are NOT Getting Any Shorter

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

One of the biggest frustrations in my work is dealing with short sale lenders. With all the recent claims that these lenders are going to embrace short sales and make them quicker, the reality is that is not happening. Why is this so? Your guess is as good as mine, but let’s look at some simple ways the banks could improve on short sale response times, saving everyone aggravation and getting more homes sold, which of course helps the real estate market.

Time frames/mandatory check in times with agents on files. We need to make the short sale process more streamlined. There should be time frames established for each task, including response times. The negotiator for the bank should have daily updates for the agents on status, and be made to comply with the time frames. In a dream world every lender would have to follow the same protocol, which would make short sales easier to understand and close.

Assign one negotiator/closer to each file. One negotiator should be assigned by the bank to the file from the start, regardless of whether the bank uses an electronic system like Equator. The negotiator can then at least be familiar with the file to some extent, from reading his/her notes. Once a task is completed and the file needs to move up the chain of command for signatures, the assigned negotiator should be in contact with the higher-up, and remain actively involved with the file – that way we know the status and do not have to track down who actually has the file. Again, deadlines must be adhered to. I am tired of it taking 3-4 weeks to get a signature – if everything has been approved why does it take so long to sign off? This is ridiculous.

Make electronic systems more flexible. Some systems, like Equator, are great for keeping track of documents and progress. But these systems need to be maintained. When your file is full, oftentimes you are unable to leave further messages for the negotiator, and of course this is the only way you are supposed to contact them. These systems need to be maintained daily, and if they get to a full status they need to be archived so more messages can be input to the file.

Strict time frames for investor-lender communication. One of the most difficult aspects of short sale approval is that while the lender may actually be quick to respond, the investor (the one who actually holds the note, as opposed to the bank/servicer) often takes a long time to approve (and this is required for escrow to be opened). This problem has caused many short sales to fall apart after months of waiting and negotiating, even after the servicing bank says the sale looks good. Investor banks need to establish communication guidelines with the servicers, and stick to them.

Sadly, until these lenders decide to actively do something to  make these sales more streamlined, there is nothing we agents can do. I would love for the bank executives in charge of the loss mitigation programs to have a big press conference, where real estate agents could attend and ask questions…there are so many I can think of. But it would be fascinating to hear the answers. The unfortunate thing is, I don’t believe they even understand why they can’t get these sales closed faster, and they probably have no idea what goes on in reality. Well, at least we can always hope.

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