December 13th, 2016
Three days ago one of my neighbors passed away. She was a beautiful woman, almost the same age as me, with 2 children roughly the same age as my children. Like me, she had her own business. The impact her death has had on my life is astounding, and as a mother it has made me so very grateful to be here today, and every day, for my family and those who are dear to me.
My sister in law passed away at the same age as my neighbor – 46. Watching her children go through such a horrible circumstance was so difficult. So my neighbor’s death really brought back all those memories of losing my sister in law, whom I still miss every day. As parents we never really think about leaving our children behind- I know for me it has been the biggest fear since mine were born. We want to be there for our children and help them grow up, and want to see who they become and what lives they make for themselves. Too many young parents do not get to be there for all the beautiful things – graduations, significant others, jobs, marriages, children, etc.
This holiday season I feel more grateful than normal, and I am going to carry that with me daily. Our time here is only borrowed and can be very short – we never know when it will be up. So I am going to spend even more time with family and friends, and make sure that I give thanks every day for being here. I am also going to send my love and prayers to the neighbors who no longer have a mother, and to all motherless and fatherless children everywhere.
With all the terrible things going on in this world – wars, hardships, stress, illness, political messes – we all need to realize that it’s better to face difficult situations and get through them than it is to not be here. So lighten up and take notice of all the things in your life you have to appreciate, and don’t just be grateful, but share that feeling and pass it on. You are blessed.
Happy holidays to you all.
December 5th, 2016
I read an interesting fact today: 44% of consumers find the homebuying process scary or intimidating. That is a staggering number of people who are unsure of the process and need guidance. The good news is that today it is easy to make finding your next home a fun and positive experience.
Here is my advice on how to make the process not so scary:
Hire a great agent – Yes, there are many real estate professionals out there, and yes, some will make promises to the moon and back, maybe even tell you they will give you back some of their commission if you choose to work with them. But that does not make one a great agent. Here is what does: experience, local knowledge, intelligence, familiarity with the homebuying process, strong negotiation skills, great referrals.
Find a professional mortgage officer – This is another of those “must haves” when searching for a home that could either make or break a purchase. You need to find a great mortgage officer PRIOR to searching for homes. That person should have all of your data and necessary paperwork so he or she can issue a preapproval – this is important for two reasons: 1. it will tell you how much you can afford, and 2. You will have a higher chance of getting an offer accepted if you are preapproved.
Choosing a mortgage professional is similar to selecting a real estate agent – there are many who will talk the talk and even make promises, but you need to feel comfortable with that person – yes, it’s about getting a great loan but it’s also about making sure the lender can close your loan. If you do not know where to start it is often good to ask those you trust, including that great real estate agent!
Get educated and start your search way early -I tell ALL buyers that it is never too early to start getting ready to purchase a home. If you plan to buy in a year, two years that means you need to get educated and you should start now. Learn about different neighborhoods, their amenities, positives and negatives. If you have children look up local schools and see how they rate – talk to neighbors in potential areas you like and ask about the neighborhood, schools and anything else that may be important.
Most importantly, start looking at homes way before you are ready to buy! Most people hear this and ask me why, so I tell them that you will learn a lot about different areas, floorplans and so much more. When it does come time to buy you will know more about the areas in which you want (and don’t care) to focus, which will make the homebuying process way less scary! So get out there and visit open houses, schedule appointments with your agent and start learning.
It is also important to note that you can learn a lot about homes online – with so many informative real estate sites available at your fingertips you can learn about amenities and so much more.
Stay Organized: Use all the above tools to your advantage and create a folder so you can categorize those areas and even floorplans that have potential. If you are not planning to purchase immediately you will likely forget all the things you learn along the way.
November 28th, 2016
If you have been looking for a home recently you may realize that doing so has become tougher: there is less inventory out there and when a great home lists there are often multiple offers. So how does a buyer get ahead to secure a home when many others are in the same situation? Here are some tips.
Hire a great real estate agent. This is above all the number one way to find a home in a tough market. Not only can your agent give you advice about what price and terms may get you that house you love, but they are also locally connected, which can make all the difference in the world.
Here is an example – After losing out on a few multiple offer situations I found buyers a home through my connections with other local agents – one that had not gone on the MLS yet. In another situation, I notified buyers of a home that was about to come on the market (they lost out on purchasing my listing in the same neighborhood), and they got into contract prior to the home going on the MLS. Some say this is unfair for the other buyers out there as they never had a chance to see or bid on the home, but many real estate sales work this way. Those of us who work particular areas often stay in touch and know when there is a listing coming up. Having that on your side as you search for a home is priceless.
Be Paperwork Ready: There is no better advice than to be ready to make an offer. This means you need to be preapproved with a lender (the lender should have all your paperwork so s/he is ready to go once you write an offer, and you should have a preapproval letter). Have a copy of your latest bank or investment statement showing proof of funds for your downpayment, in order to submit with your offer. Your offer should be as strong as possible so speak with your agent to determine what needs to be in there and what may be left out in order to avoid a multiple offer situation.
Know what you want: Often this is difficult when one is focusing on multiple areas or neighborhoods, but if you really know those you prefer, including floorplans and other amenities, you will be able to act quickly to see the home and make and offer. Even if multiple offers do come in, being first to present can often be helpful. Start looking at areas and homes before you are ready to purchase – the more information you have the better and more prepared you will be when the time to buy is right.
All in all, buying a home in a low inventory market can be tough. With interest rates rising every day counts – if you can lock in a rate prior to another rate increase that is great – and it just means you need to be ready when that right home becomes available. Of all the above tips, having a great buyer’s agent is the best advice I can provide. Many people think they can find a home without an agent, but a good agent is worth her weight in gold when it comes to finding the right home.
Happy home shopping!
November 23rd, 2016
From my home to yours, I wish you a wonderful
Thanksgiving surrounded by those you love.
Count your blessings, as there is always something
for which to be thankful.
November 16th, 2016
There is something important that all home buyers, sellers and agents need to be aware of and it is very easy to discover: making sure all parties on title have signed the listing agreement and the residential purchase contract (and of course all further documents that relate to the sale).
It is extremely important that all listing agents check the property deed prior to having sellers sign a listing agreement. It is not hard to do and takes only a call to the title representative. You cannot rely on what the seller(s) tell you, as they may not even realize that there is another person on title. Recently I sold a home on behalf of my buyer clients. I pulled up the tax records and saw there were 2 sellers named as owners. I drafted the offer with both names. Due to complicated circumstances one party was going to sell and the other was going to sign an interspousal deed transfer, but that was not signed yet. We got around it but it was a very strange situation and a bit risky.
Another home I sold recently had 3 sellers, but only 2 were named in the tax records; however the deed showed there was a third party on title (parent of one of the sellers). The listing agent was not aware of this and we had to get the third seller’s signatures on all paperwork after the contract was accepted. Luckily that third seller was cooperative – this may not always be the case.
If someone who is on title does not sign all paperwork then technically there is no contract, as the law states that all owners on title need to agree to a sale. You can imagine the legal repercussions down the road if things are done improperly! The good news is that the title company will catch this and it can be corrected, but not if the other person who has not signed decides to be uncooperative.
If you are an agent, this is something you should know, but believe it or not many agents have listing agreements signed without checking with their title department to assure that all parties on title sign the agreement. Similarly, buyers agents need to check the deed before writing offers to make sure this is the case. If you are a buyer or seller, you should ask your agent to make sure s/he has all the correct information at the time of listing or writing an offer.
November 5th, 2016
Don’t forget to set your clocks BACK one hour tonight when you go to sleep…Daylight Savings Time ends Sunday.
November 2nd, 2016
It has been 6 years since LaMar Real Estate officially started helping people with real estate needs in North San Diego. I am blessed and so lucky to have been given this gift, and for all of the AMAZING people who have helped make this business so successful! Thank you to ALL my wonderful clients, agents, business associates, title and escrow folks, home inspectors, lenders and others who have made the last 6 years absolutely wonderful (and the last 14 years for me in the business)!
Happy Anniversary to us! We all look forward to continuing to help buyers and sellers with their real estate needs, always with integrity and with a continuous pledge to provide stellar service with that extra benefit of legal experience in the contract and real estate law fields.
Thank you and here is to another 6 incredible years!
October 21st, 2016
This wonderfully upgraded Sea Cliff home is located on a cul de sac with views of the lake and pool area. 2 Master suites plus an optional third bedroom downstairs provide ample living space, and the private backyard patio offers fruit trees and tranquil views. Upgrades include granite counters, stainless appliances, travertine flooring, designer carpeting upstairs, new fixtures, remodeled fireplace and bathrooms, new water heater, epoxy flooring in garage, air conditioning, custom paint throughout, and more.
- 1681 SF, 2 bedrooms + optional bedroom, 3 bathrooms
- Patio views to lake and pool/spa
- Quiet cul de sac location
- Upgraded kitchen with granite counters
- Stainless appliances (refrigerator included with sale)
- Travertine flooring downstairs
- Designer carpeting on stairs and second floor
- Dual master suites and a third optional bedroom downstairs
- New lighting and fixtures throughout
- Remodeled bathrooms
- Custom paint throughout, wide baseboards
- 2 car garage with epoxy flooring and built-in storage
- New water heater
- New washer and dryer (included)
- Air conditioning
- High ceilings
- Gated community
- Community pools and spas, tennis courts, clubhouse, lakes, walking paths
- Less than a mile to the beach
- Stroll to shopping, dining at Poinsettia Village Center
- Carlsbad School District
- Low HOAs, no mello roos
Sea Cliff is one of Carlsbad’s secret havens: a gated community with tree-lined walking paths, lakes and ponds, tennis courts, pools and hot tubs, gazebos, places to sit and enjoy nature, plus a fully equipped clubhouse where there is always something going on. Located only 1 mile from the beach, and moments to shopping, dining and entertainment in sunny Carlsbad, North San Diego.
For more photos, information or to schedule a showing, click here or contact agent Rachel LaMar at 760-310-9466. LaMar Real Estate. BRE# 01993682
October 7th, 2016
It has been an interesting time lately in the real estate market, and it is difficult to figure out exactly what is going on – is it slowing down, is it still hot…many people are confused. It really depends on your specific area, but there are some interesting things going on in my local markets…let’s take a look.
Multiple offers – still?! Yes! There are still some of those crazy multiple offer situations going on out there, and believe it or not they make it look like a seller’s market in the heat of summer. But this is not happening everywhere. It seems – at least in my neck of the woods in North San Diego – to be happening with condos and towhhomes that are very nicely upgraded, in good areas, and priced up to $550,000. Just last week I wrote an offer on a townhome for clients. The offer was super clean, priced over asking price, which was already stretching the appraisal potential, and a quick close in 30 days. We received a multiple counter offer asking us in essence to come up higher, remove the appraisal contingency at the outset, reduce all other contingency periods, and specifying that the sellers would make no repairs. We lost that one (I would never allow a buyer to remove an appraisal contingency unless they insisted, after being fully aware of the consequences).
Buyers are not jumping as high: Yes, this may sound like it contradicts the above paragraph, but it is true in most cases that buyers are not giving into inflated prices any longer. Most buyers (with the exception being the above scenario) are taking longer to find the right home, and then trying to negotiate the price. Much of the real estate news I read follows this position – after a crazy summer with prices inflating many buyers who missed the boat (or even those who intentionally waited out the crazy buyer storm) are finding that they can negotiate prices down and for that matter do not mind waiting until homes have some market time to make offers. This to me indicates the slow approach of a buyers market.
Fewer listings, fewer escrows opened: As is normal after the end of the summer season, listings are not as plentiful. But even after a fewer-than-usual-listings summer the Fall numbers continue to drop. Fewer escrows were opened in the last month compared to summer months. If this continues – fewer active properties, steady demand – it could spur the seller’s market to stick around for a bit…which means we could see prices rise. Interest rates will play a big part in this equation, as of course will jobs – people have to be able to afford homes.
In a nutshell the market is a bit hard to predict right now and doing so requires focusing on the specific community in which you are searching. For those buyers out there who are ready, willing and able to purchase my advice is to not rush into anything (unless you find your absolute “must-have it” dream home – but even then you need to be careful), consult with an experienced real estate agent to make a plan, stick to your budget and stick to your guns when negotiating price, repairs and other items.
September 19th, 2016
I don’t know if it’s just bad luck, but I have been having MAJOR issues with lenders lately – messing up (and almost killing) escrows at the 11th hour. (I should say that these mistakes are not from MY preferred lenders, but from lenders whose clients are purchasing my listings). Here is what I know: lenders are held to high standards, most importantly they must check all paperwork and needed documentation during the buyer’s loan contingency process. Here are some of the dumb things that I have seen lately from buyers’ lenders:
1. Not checking buyer documentation. I had a lender this past week that on the day of the loan contingency removal deadline realized that there were two parties to a trust for which they based funds going into the loan. Now I have to assume that they had a copy of this trust for 21 days, and that they vetted it to make sure their borrower qualified. However, on day 21 I find out that they “just realized” that there were 2 trustees, not one, and therefore the borrower actually had half of the money to his name instead of the whole trust amount, on which they based approval.
This is unacceptable folks! These are basic inquiries a lender needs to make when processing a loan! How could the lender not have known the borrower’s stake in the trust when it should have had that trust documentation, which clearly identifies trustees and is a vital document when funds are coming from it?! Unbelievable.
2. Sending over loan docs with a change in borrower names. Believe it or not, a lender this past week sent over loan docs to escrow to be signed by the buyers, with closing slated for the following day (which happened to be a Friday so there was no room for screw-ups). The problem was that the docs had DIFFERENT buyer names than the contract/escrow documents – they basically eliminated a buyer! Now, I don’t know about you but it isn’t rocket science – it is pretty basic common sense that if you have a contract between parties, you cannot just change or eliminate the name(s) of a party without proper documentation (it also happens to be the law). Lenders KNOW this!
Suffice it to say that in this particular case escrow and I had to jump through hoops and the lender had to re-draw docs at the 11th hour. It was very stressful. This is absolutely unbelievable. The lender has copies of the contracts and all documentation relating to the purchase agreement. For them to do something like this is just crazy.
The moral of my crazy lender scenario week is that there are often problems in a real estate transaction, so prepare for them. But those who are charged with qualifying borrowers need to be much more careful. Things like this should not be happening. This past week was officially named by me “lender screw-up week.” I sure am glad those lenders that I work with are so on top of things, and hope to never work with either of these particular lenders again.