Archive for July, 2014

San Diego Calendar for August 2014

Thursday, July 31st, 2014
August 2, 25th Annual Clairemont Family Day
This family festival offers residents a full day of fun with food, merchandise, and musical entertainment. There will also be games, pony rides, carnival rides, and a car show. The recreation center pool allows free swimming all day, so take your swimsuit! This is a free event.
Time: 8:00 am – 4:00 pm
Location: South Clairemont Park, 3605 Clairemont Dr.
For more information visit www.clairemontfamilyday.com
August 3, Annual Lemon Festival
Celebrating Chula Vista’s heritage as the Lemon Capital of the World, the Annual Lemon Festival will be packed with entertainment and loads of summer fun. This free event features lemons, live entertainment, food, lemons, vendors, kid’s fun zone, lemons, contests, and lemons galore!
Time: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Location: Third Ave., Downtown Chula Vista
For more information visit www.thirdavenuevillage.com 
August 9, 9th Annual Dog Days of Summer 2014
There is nothing like a canine festival to keep Fido entertained. However, this free event will be fun for the entire family! Vendors with pooch products, dog contests, live music, food, a kid’s zone, a large silent auction, pet adoptions, and much more will be present.
Time: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Location: Cardiff 101 Maint Street, Cardiff-by-the-Sea
For more information visit www.cardiffdogdaysofsummer.com
August 10, Art in the Village Arts & Crafts Show
There will be over 150 of the finest arts and craft vendors in the most beautiful of settings in the Village of Carlsbad, just two blocks from the beach. Live acoustic music, artist demos and instruction throughout the event. Enjoy the day and take home some great handcrafts and art for your home.
Time: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Location: Carlsbad Village
For more information visit www.kennedyfaires.com/carlsbad
August 10, Annual CityFest – Hillcrest
A celebration of spirit and play, this event is a popular festival featuring over 250 vendors, games, activities, music, a beer garden and much more. Patrons can sit at cafe style seating and watch entertaining street performers while listening to live music. This is a free event.
Time: 12:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Location: 5th Ave. and University Ave., Hillcrest 
For more information visit www.fabuloushillcrest.com 
August 15, Wine & A Bite Art Walk
Wine, art, and music in the Village Square: Stop at several destination venues in Historic Downtown Fallbrook where you can stroll along and taste great food, wine, desserts and have an art experience. Tickets can be purchased online or at the Fallbrook Chamber office.
Time: 5:00 pm – 7:30 pm
Location: Historic Downtown Fallbrook, Village Square Main & Alvarado
For more information visit www.fallbrookchamberofcommerce.org
August 15 – 17, 12th Annual Summergrass Bluegrass Music Festival
This family oriented event features tasty food, live music, and music workshops by performing artists, jam sessions, vendors, a raffle, and activities for kids. Refer to website for ticket information.
Time:  Fri: 3:00 pm – 10:00 pm, Sat: 10:00 am – 10:00 pm,                      Sun: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
Location: Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum,                                    2040 N Santa Fe Ave., Vista 
For more information visit www.summergrass.net
August 16, Free to Breathe 5K Run/Walk & 1 Mile Walk 
This event is a 5K run/walk and 1 mile walk to promote awareness about lung cancer and to obtain vital funding for research. Help double lung cancer survival. By participating, you’re helping raise awareness and fund vital research programs dedicated to doubling lung cancer survival by 2022.
Time: 7:45 am – 10:00 am
Location: North Embarcadero Marina Park, 400 Kettner Blvd., San Diego 
For more information visit www.freetobreathe.com 
August 21 – 24, Julian Starfest 2014
Activities include photographing the August night sky (a workshop) plus various speakers. On Friday afternoon you’ll learn the basics of setting up your gear and shooting in complete darkness. Activities on Friday and Saturday are available in the vendor/exhibit area. See website for activities costs.
Time: Refer to website for schedule
Location: Menghini Winery, 1150 Julian Orchards Dr., Julian 
For more information visit www.julianstarfest.com 
August 22, Summer Movie on the Flight Deck of the Midway
Bring the kids to the Flight Deck of the Midway for a free summer movie.  Planes is the feature movie.  Light concessions will be available for sale.  Bring a blanket!
Time:  Doors open at 7 pm, with the film starting at approximately 8 pm.
Location:  USS Midway Museum, 910 North Harbor Dr., Downtown San Diego
For more information call 619.544.9600
August 23, Mira Mesa Festival of Beers
Beer lovers, head to Mira Mesa to sample craft beers from local breweries. You can sample up to 40 different beers while enjoying live band music. There will be food trucks, vendor booths, and more. Refer to website for admission information.
Time: 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Location: Mira Mesa Community Park, 8575 New Salem St., San Diego 
For more information visit www.miramesabeerfest.com 
August 24, 6th Annual Wild Rides Car Show
There will be hundreds of hot rods and classic cars, demonstrations, a contest, food and auto-related vendors. Staged entertainment includes music, dance, comics, and bikini contest. This is a free event.
Time: 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Location: Garnet Ave., Bayard St., and Cass St., Downtown Pacific Beach
For more information visit www.chargersteve.com 
August 24, 7th Annual Bike the Bay
Join a 25-mile fun bike ride that begins and ends at the Embarcadero Marina Park South, crossing over the San Diego Coronado Bay Bridge, and circling the San Diego Bay. The event is for all levels of riders and for individuals, families, and groups. The event will conclude with a post-ride Festival with food, beverages and entertainment at the park. 
Time: 7:00 am – 2:00 pm
Location: Embarcadero Marina Park South, San Diego
For more information visit www.bikethebay.net 
August 24, 10th Annual LeucadiArt Walk 
Leucadia art galleries and local artists will display original art in galleries or in specified areas along Coast Highway 101 in Leucadia. There will be live musical performances throughout the day. A Local Craft Beer Garden with popular local musical acts and a new and improved kid’s zone with mural painting and multiple art stations. 
Time: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Location: West side of Hwy 101, Leucadia
For more information visit www.leucadia101.com/Artwalk.php
August 29 – September 1, Festival of Sail: The Festival
Festival of Sail is the largest Tall Ship festival on the west coast. Fun for the entire family featuring an expanded events area, with more booths to explore, larger kids zone, vintage boat display, stage for live entertainment, beer garden, and lots more to see and do. On August 28th the Parade of Tall Ships will take place from 10:00 am – 12:00 pm where a fleet of tall ships and vessels will majestically make their way into the San Diego Bay. Once the ships from the Parade have docked, you can purchase passports to go aboard and do some exploring.
Time: Fri: 9:00 am – 7:00 pm, Sat: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Location: North Harbor Dr. and the Maritime Museum, San Diego 
For more information visit www.sdmaritime.org 
August 30, Hormel Black Label Bacon Fest
An event designed especially for 21+ bacon enthusiasts. Try some delicious samplings of bacon-inspired foods prepared by top chefs combined with beverages from established breweries, distilleries, and wineries. Live music will accompany the event. Refer to website for admission information.
Time: 12:00 – 5:30 pm
Location: Preble Field, Liberty Station
For more information visit www.sdbaconfest.com
August 31, Sand Art Contest at Oceanside Pier
A Sand Art Contest limited to 50 teams of 4 people and a free family art day at the picnic tables. Join in on the fun and enjoy some sun! This event is sponsored by Oceanside Museum of Art.
Time: 9:00 am – 12:30 pm
Location: South Pier Beach, Oceanside
For more information visit www.ci.oceanside.ca.us
Calendar courtesy of Lawyer’s Title
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Will Restrictions Force Real Estate Professionals Out of Business?

Friday, July 25th, 2014

There have been several forces in the real estate universe as of late that seem to be conspiring against real estate agents. In theory some of them make a lot of sense, but the fact that they are all being brought to light at the same time make it appear we agents just can’t get a break…at least when it comes to our wallets.images

Let’s look at what has been going on that could end up costing real estate agents and brokers a lot of money and time.

Data sharing restrictions. Real estate agents may soon be unable to post data on their sites that documents racial and ethnic information about neighborhoods. You must understand that an agent or broker is not allowed to provide this information directly to clients (it is a violation of fair housing laws and the real estate code of ethics). However, many agents link to third party data sites that provide tons of information on neighborhoods, including school and education levels, crime data and ethnic and racial makeup.

This data is not private – any person can go online and find it. Therefore, the real estate agent is not the one providing the information directly, nor is he or she presenting any information that is not publicly accessible – other (non- real estate) websites will still be able to provide this data. If the agents are forced to not allow links to such information on their sites, then people will go elsewhere and the agents will lose out on providing valuable information (unless the third party sites decide to cut just a few categories and still provide the other, allowable information).

Drone photography restrictions. You may have heard about the controversy surrounding drone photography. Relatively new, the use of drone photography in the real estate industry has become popular, especially with agents selling luxury homes and homes with land or views. Many real estate agents across the country have begun incorporating it into their marketing, and both buyers and sellers love it. Soon that may be allowed no longer, and it already is restricted in several states.

changesThe issue here seems to be that the FAA regulations ban the use of drones for commercial purposes. Selling homes is classified as a commercial purpose, but there have been several lawsuits challenging the use of drones for real estate photography – and in one case a fine imposed upon a real estate agent was overturned. Still, agents have received subpoenas and cease and desist orders; until there are changes to the law it is unclear how this one will play out, but the bottom line is that some agents use this technology to win listings and restricting access to technology such as this could affect their livelihood.

Hobbyists are allowed to fly drones without issue so long as they stick to height restrictions and are not within 5 miles from an airport. Many real estate professionals argue that this is not fair at all – why distinguish between a hobbyist and a real estate agent, when a hobbyist can shoot a picture of a house or building with no consequence, but a real estate agent cannot? I am sure the issue will continue to receive more press.

Website accessibility changes. Agents and brokers may soon be required to make changes to their websites so that the hearing and visually impaired can access those sites with the same freedom as those without disabilities. The Department of Justice (DOJ), which enforces the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is investigating, as there have been numerous lawsuits filed against non-real estate companies who have websites that are not accessible to those with disabilities. The websites are considered to be the same as a physical storefront if goods or services are provided.

What will this mean for real estate professionals? They will need to make the following changes should the upcoming rule declare:

1.  Font size and screen background should be adjustable (to assist people with vision issues)

2.  Sites should not present images without captions (blind people use readers to transfer words into speech, so with only images these systems cannot “read” the page)

3.  Videos should have captions, (same reason as above)

4.  Sites should allow for the ability to extend the time to respond to what is presented (for example, if a site says that the reader must “act now” to avail themselves of a benefit)

5.  Sites should not use CAPTCHAs with only visual verification. These are the windows that pop up asking for the person to verify they are a live person by copying a word/number sequence into a box. Many sites today use CAPTCHAs that allow the user to hear the word that must be copied.

The ruling is supposed to be handed down soon by the DOJ, so until that happens we will not know when or whether the above changes will in fact be necessary. But attorneys familiar with the situation have surmised that real estate websites will have to comply in the future. This means agents will have to spend money getting their websites into compliance mode. How much it will cost will depend on the website creators – who it seems will benefit from such requirements.

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The bottom line is that there are several potential future regulations that will cost real estate agents money in order to comply. These restrictions could impact many. It is getting more and more expensive to be a real estate agent/broker. What are your thoughts?

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New CA Policy Could Get Realtors Into Trouble Faster

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Kudos to the California Bureau of Real Estate for a smart new rule that could get unethical agents into trouble more quickly. One of the biggest problems in the real estate industry in California is that agents who are accused of committing unethical acts, or those who break laws or rules, were subject to a lengthy process of administrative hearings. The agent or broker could continue to work in the industry for a long time until it was found they actually did something wrong (and many claims are not even investigated because there is not enough people-power to do so – but that is a story for another blog). images

Here are the highlights of the new rule, which was announced this month:

1. Citations issued more quickly. The new rule, referred to as “cite and fine,” will give the BRE the authority to issue citations and assess fines prior to hearings. The rules apply to both real estate professionals and those who practice real estate without licenses (those without licenses will likely be subject to higher fines).  Fines will go up to $2500.

Here is how the new rule will work. Once a complaint is filed, the administrators will conduct an investigation, audit or examination of records. Action will be taken depending on the type and degree of the violation. Most minor offenses (such as failure to include the agent’s BRE license number on first point of contact marketing materials) will be subject to fines.

2. Offender names will be available via public record. Names of those who are cited and/or fined will not appear on the BRE website or under the licensee’s record, it will appear in the public records for anyone who chooses to submit a request through the Public Records Act.

3.  Money collected from fines will go to a good cause. All the money collected by the BRE from offending licensees and non-licensees will go into a fund that helps victims of real estate fraud. Again – kudos to the BRE.

This new citation and fine system is a step in the right direction toward the prevention of rules and ethics violations in the real estate industry. Hopefully the BRE will continue to refine policies AND licensing and training requirements. I will keep my hopes up that this is the first in a succession of positive moves to make the real estate industry more professional and respected.

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5 Inexpensive Ways to Get Your Home Sale-Ready

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Whether you are going to sell your home or have a home you can’t yet afford to upgrade, there are things you can do to make it more appealing, without breaking the piggy bank. If you are selling your home it is important that the home look the best it can, especially if you want to attract qualified buyers. Here are some great ideas you can accomplish in a weekend or two.paint

1. Paint. Paint is by far the best way to update any space, and it is inexpensive. If your  home looks dull or the walls are dirty, paint is the answer. Avoid any bright or dark colors, and try to stay within a neutral realm if you are selling (buyers may have different tastes so it is safest). If your home does not get a lot of natural light you should keep the colors light. Painting is easy and can literally transform a room. Don’t forget baseboards and doors if needed. If the front of your home needs sprucing up, you can save money by just painting the trim, front door and garage (if needed), without having to spend thousands on the entire exterior.

2. Replace door and cabinet knobs. This is another inexpensive way to really change the feel of a room or entire home. I can’t tell you how many times I have shown homes that have been upgraded, but for the ugly door and cabinet knobs that are circa 1970. Knobs come in a plethora of shapes and colors, with a vast price range. If you go to a large home store like Home Depot or Lowe’s, you can find some great prices. You can also shop online. Doors that are freshly painted with new fixtures improve the entire room.

bright kitchen3. Let the light in. This is one of the biggest selling points – buyers do not like dark homes. If you have one you have to assess how best to address the issues and bring in as much light as possible. Windows should be uncovered and cleaned – no heavy drapes (because even when they are open the material hanging on the sides blocks light). Short of installing light tubes in your ceiling, you can add more lighting to your home if there are areas where the natural light does not illuminate. You don’t need to spend lots of money – if that is not an option you can simply purchase inexpensive lighting features. If the kitchen is dark, consider mounting under-cabinet lights – if you have multiple outlets you can usually install them yourself without the help of an electrician.

4. Dress up the front of your home. This is critical for sellers, because curb appeal is the first thing buyers will notice. Without having to completely re-landscape, you can make a big difference to the front of your home by doing the following: trim overgrown bushes and trees, mow the lawn, pull weeds, clean windows and doors and sweep porches, and do some planting – think colorful. You can purchase flats of flowers for cheap and line your walkway or planter boxes. If you don’t have those think of investing in a few big pots (it is easy to find cheap ones), and filling them with flowers – place these at your front door or other focal points. If you have large spaces that cannot be filled with plants, purchase a few large bags of bark to make the spaces look fresh. Make sure outdoor lighting is working and clean fixtures.

5. Declutter. I have written numerous blogs about the importance of decluttering. If you are selling your home, keep in mind that buyers want to see the useable space in every room. Take out excess furniture, stacks of books or magazines. Remove photographs from walls (a few well-placed pieces of art are fine, but you do not want walls covered with photos or art). Leave counters empty (except for very little, like a vase of fresh flowers). If you have furniture that is very bulky, get rid of it if you are sprucing up for sale. If you really need  help you can consider staging (which really is not overly expensive and will likely bring  you offers sooner than without staging, so do the math). If you are not selling but living in your home, decluttering still is advantageous and will highlight the space in your home. Decluttering should include the garage and outdoor living spaces.

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Possible New Restrictions on Realtor Website Data

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Once again the powers that be are trying to restrict the content that real estate agents and brokers can post on their websites, and it is creating a lot of controversy in the industry.images

The National Fair Housing Alliance stated this week that is investigating complaints that could lead to forbidding real estate websites from sharing neighborhood racial and ethnic data – information that is available to anyone willing to search online via other types of sites, like the Census Bureau. Granted this information is much easier to acquire from a real estate website, but regardless it is still out there for anyone searching.

The Fair Housing Act forbids real estate agents and brokers from steering clients into or out of certain neighborhoods due to racial or ethnic makeup.  They are not allowed to discuss or provide any information if such questions or concerns are posed. Agents and brokers are further governed by the code of ethics of the National Association of Realtors, which prohibits disseminating “information regarding the racial, religious or ethnic composition of any neighborhood.”

For as long as there have been real estate websites, agents and brokers have provided information about the housing market and real estate practices. This information benefits consumers and has created a culture of uber-informed buyers and sellers. The knowledge one can acquire from both large and small real estate websites can really educate and assist those looking to purchase or sell a home.

Most websites link to services that provide neighborhood and community information, myself included. Potential buyers can gather a plethora of information about any neighborhood, including statistics on education levels, jobs, languages, and other categories including racial and ethnic data. If estate websites are required to remove such information, there will still be places where anyone can obtain it.

So what do you think – should real estate websites be allowed to continue to provide such neighborhood information? Do you think it violates Fair Housing laws or real estate ethics? How much can we as a society control the information that the consumer desires to obtain, and at what point are we infringing on freedom and democracy? Please share your views!

 

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Buying After a Past Short Sale? You May Soon be Out of Luck

Friday, July 11th, 2014

If you are thinking of buying a home  with a conventional loan, and you had a short sale, deed-in-lieu of foreclosure or mortgage loan write-off less than 4 years ago, you better be aware of some changes that will take effect in August (yes, next month). What this may mean is that you have to get into contract within the next few weeks or may risk having to possibly wait another year or two to make a home purchase.house_question

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the largest financers for the majority of loans in the U.S., announced earlier this week that they are extending guidelines for purchases after short sales, deeds-in-lieu or mortgage write offs. Starting August 16, 2014, a buyer with a past short sale (or the others) must have closed escrow on that sale 4 years before the date of purchase of a new home. The current rule is two years if the borrower is putting 20% down – see below). If there are extenuating circumstances (a death in the family or accident that affected the ability to pay the mortgage – divorce or job loss do not count as extenuating circumstances, and each lender may have different rules as to what does qualify so make sure to check), then the time period could be lessened to three years upon approval.

This rule, which has surprised many mortgage and real estate professionals, could create problems for those currently looking for homes in a market with low inventory. Note that the new purchase does not have to close by August 16, but the must be fully approved by that time. So long as you get into contract with a few weeks to spare for approval you should be fine.

Here is how the current seasoning requirements look:

  • 7 years with less than 10% down
  • 4 years with 10% – 19.99% down
  • 2 Years with 20%+ down

Here is how the new requirements will look:

  • 7 years with less than 10% down (no extenuating circumstances allowed for this program)
  • 4 years with 10% down or more (2 year seasoning requirement is allowed if we can document extenuating circumstances that caused the short sale. Taking advantage of a declining market is an unacceptable hardship. I’ve written more about this subject below.)

Personally I have clients who will be affected by this new change if they do not find a home very soon. I am surprised that such a rule would be instituted in the middle of the housing recovery, when there is little inventory and the market is turning from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market. I feel this is a very bad call and that it will have negative effects on the housing market.

If you are in the process of looking for a new home and had a short sale within the last 4 years, you need to discuss this with your mortgage professional and your real estate agent.

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Where Can You Buy a House in North San Diego for Under $500,000?

Monday, July 7th, 2014

The North San Diego housing market is pricey, and for that reason many people move outside of the county in order to find affordable homes. Of course they have to deal with long commutes to work in San Diego, not to mention being away from our ideal weather, but it makes sense for many.

If you just can’t fathom not living the San Diego lifestyle and don’t want to live outside the county, there are some areas where you can afford a detached home for under $500,000. Let’s focus on three areas in North County that will allow you to afford San Diego real estate on a budget under $500,000.SanMarcos

San Marcos. San Marcos is a great area that has changed dramatically in the last decade. Located only 8-10 miles from the ocean and right off the 78 freeway (close to the 15 and  less than 10 miles from the 5), this community offers several different neighborhoods where your dollar can stretch a lot farther than in coastal neighborhoods. There are many restaurants, shopping and entertainment throughout the community, as well as Cal State University San Marcos.

There are currently 45 active homes under $500,000 in San Marcos, in neighborhoods like Discovery Hills, Twin Oaks and Santa Fe Hills. Each neighborhoods offers different amenities – some are gated communities. There are also retirement communities in the Lake San Marcos area that will fit into this budget. If you have a townhome or condo in mind you will have even more choices, such as the well-known walkable community of San Elijo Hills.

VistaVista. Vista has been touted as one of the best weather cities in North San Diego. With constant ocean breezes (Vista is located 7 miles from the ocean) and a central location to all of north county, Vista has a lot to offer, whether you are looking to live in the middle of or away from it all. According to Wikipedia “Vista was listed as the seventh-best place in the United States for family life, based on factors such as jobs and business opportunities, education, climate, and cost-of-living in a 2008 review.

Right now there are 86 active detached homes under $500,000 in Vista. These properties lie in different areas of the city, from the popular Shadowridge area (which sits right next to Carlsbad and has a nice golf course and close proximity to the ocean), to rural and city neighborhoods.

Oceanside. If you want to live closer to the beach Oceanside, San Diego’s northernmost community, is a great option. Formerly known as solely a military town, Oceansideit has developed and changed substantially in the last decade, with a variety of neighborhoods along and off the 76 corridor. Many homes here can be purchased for under $500,000 – whether you are looking for older or newer homes, tract neighborhoods or custom homes. There really is something for everyone in Oceanside.

Currently there are 171 detached homes on the market in Oceanside, including many different neighborhood types and locations. Oceanside is known for its wonderful weather, nice beaches and the pier, its many bike and hiking trails, and Mission San Luis Rey.

There are coastal finds for under $500,000 in other cities as well. For more information, detailed market reports and/or home listings in any of these or other north San Diego areas, please feel free to contact me at Rachel@LaMarRealEstate.org, or visit my website.

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