Posts Tagged ‘Rachel LaMar’

Choosing a High School In Carlsbad

Saturday, January 24th, 2015

Residents living in the City of Carlsbad have several choices when it comes to high schools. Parts of southeastern Carlsbad are in the San Dieguito High School District, such as residents of La Costa Valley and neighborhoods in the La Costa Canyon High School vicinity, but for those living in other parts of the city the choices are worth investigating, as each offers something different for your student.

images-2Carlsbad High School: Carlsbad High, or CHS, is a public high school that has been around since 1957, having just undergone major redevelopment that was completed in 2012. It is the main high school in Carlsbad and is home to over 3,000 students, grades 9-12. CHS offers a typical public high school curriculum and is on a semester system, with finals in January and June. CHS classes are split up, so that a student takes 3 classes every other day, alternating with 3 different classes on the remaining days. Each week switches off, so there are “odd” days – where students take periods 1, 3 and 5; on “even” days students take classes for periods 2, 4 and 6. Each class is 2 hours long.

CHS offers many different electives, a large athletic program, and honors/AP classes. It also has strong music program, award-winning dance, choir and dramatic arts programs (including drama, television, production, and art). The football program is a big part of the school. If your student does well in a traditional school this is a great place for him or her. Click here to visit the CHS website.

Sage Creek High School: Sage Creek is the newest public high school in Carlsbad, imagescurrently in it’s second year. At the present time it houses only freshman and sophomores, but will have a junior class in the Fall of 2015 and a senior class in the Fall of 2016. Sage Creek does not currently have a large athletics program, but plans to have one in the future as the student body grows. There are some sports available at the current time, as well as drama and other classes.

Sage Creek runs on the trimester system, with each trimester lasting 10 weeks and finals at the end. Many current students like the fast pace of this system, which mirrors that of many universities. Sage is already known for it’s dedication to academic excellence, and many of the brightest educators comprise the staff. At the present time students feel as if they are attending a private school, due to the small student body and class sizes. It is a great opportunity for students who want to be part of a growing school where they can start future traditions. Click here to visit the SCHS website.

Carlsbad Seaside Academy: Also known as CSA, Seaside is not as well known because it is a self-study school. Created for those students who needed to get a high school education but had other interests that were making that a challenge (skateboard/snowboard  champions – Sean White was a student, professional ballerinas and other students who needed time to dedicate to other areas have attended), CSA has become more popular in the last few years as an alternative to or in conjunction with a traditional high school education.

CSA students meet with their assigned teacher every few weeks, are given work for their classes, and complete it on their own in time for the next meeting, where they review it and discuss with the teacher. Classes like science have additional labs that students must attend. CSA is not open for general admission – students must apply. Students can also be enrolled as concurrent students, where they attend both CSA and either CHS or Sage – upon approval. It is a great alternative for those who do not learn well in traditional systems, or for those who have schedules or situations that make attending traditional school difficult. Click here to visit their website.

Carlsbad Village Academy (CVA): CVA is a continuation school for those who need to recover credits toward high school graduation. Students are allowed to earn up to 90 credits a year via the trimester system, which allows them to either transition back to conventional high school or remain at CVA and graduate. For more information click here to visit the website for CVA.

images-1Pacific Ridge School: This is a private school located in the Bressi Ranch neighborhood of Carlsbad, housing students in grades 7-12. This school is a top-rated school that offers exceptional learning and access to sports, the arts, clubs and annual travel. All the classes are connected and the teachers relate them to the real world, using seminar style learning, otherwise known as “Harkness” learning. If you are looking for a completely integrated learning style where your student will be immersed in discussions that will teach them to use their voices to make a difference, this is a school you must visit. Class sizes average 15 students and push the button on both creativity and interest. For more information visit their website by clicking here.

Other high school options: There are other high school options outside of the city limits, including several more private schools and home school programs. Depending on your child there is a program that will be just right, so investigate and visit schools before making a choice.

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How To Get the Highest Appraisal Value for Your Listing

Saturday, January 17th, 2015

Appraisals are getting “tighter” and soon even more deals could begin crashing as buyers and sellers haggle the run up in asking prices. Understanding  ( to an appraiser) your  listing is simply a $500 appraisal fee, to you it’s a 3-6% commission; so by being proactive you will minimize the risks of losing large commission checks !   images

Quick Background on Appraisals

Dodd-Frank created a standardized federal licensing process for loan officers (“L/O’s) and appraisers. All appraisals must be performed by an independent third party (“arm’s length”) appraisal service.

The appraiser’s job is to inspect the property, compare it to similar (sold) properties, in closest proximity (up to one mile) and in the most recent time frame (up 6 months). The appraiser uses mathematical formulas (primarily price per sq. ft.) to derive a market value.  Pretty straight forward, until we get to amenities -then it becomes very subjective. One appraiser can value a fireplace at $8,000 and another at $15,000 or a view at $35,000 and another at $100,000.

There is no effective way to determine which appraiser is most accurate.

What Agents Can Do

dreamstime_988060If the appraisal is going to be “tight” there are actions you can take:

1.  When the appraisal is ordered make sure the loan officer lists you as the only “property access” contact. If the home is vacant, take off the lock box (and enter that notation into the MLS).  This guarantees the appraiser will call you for access to the property. Meeting the appraiser at the property is an opportunity to present the most up to date comps.

2.  If it feels appropriate, walk the appraiser thru the highlights of the property.

3.  Be friendly and helpful but NOT pushy!!! Appraisers are very sensitive about pressure to “hit the value”.

4.  Are there listings currently closing? Call the other listing agents and get info on when they are due to close. Better to delay the appraisers’ appt. until another home (with a higher value) closes a day or two later.

5.  Don’t rely on the MLS,  call your title service (daily if necessary) to check on a pending recording. As you know: It’s not unusual for MLS data “to lag” several days!

6.  FHA and VA appraisals often focus on more on “minutiae” than conventional Fannie/Freddie appraisals. Minor repairs ( i.e. leaky faucets – missing lite bulbs-etc)  can require an appraiser to come out for a 2nd time to “sign off” on the completed repairs) and delay your escrow’s closing by days/weeks and add several hundred dollars to the buyer’s costs. So be prepared to (pre) employ a handyman to fix small items (In reality, buyers will want many items repaired anyway).


This helpful article was written and reprinted with permission by Dan Dobbs. You can visit his website at I felt this was a great article to share it because it provides great information to agents and sellers alike, which can help make sure all is done to assure a successful appraisal.

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New Listing: Spacious and Upgraded Encinitas Townhome

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

This beautiful recently upgraded Seagate Village townhome has an abundance of natural light, two generous bedrooms with attached bathrooms, private patio with attached 2 car garage, numerous upgrades, and is situated in a desirable community with few resales. You will love this tranquil, tree-lined complex filled with meandering pathways and chirping birds, community pool, recreation center, tennis courts, play area, and walking paths along the outskirts. Offered at $459,00021_image21_mls

Features Include:

– 1097 sq ft, 2 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms

– Upgraded kitchen with custom glass tiled backsplash

– New stainless appliances (oven/cooktop, dishwasher,  and microwave). Stainless refrigerator.

– New porcelain whitewashed plank flooring downstairs

03_image03_mls- Travertine tile flooring in bathrooms, entry and kitchen

– Travertine tiled shower in master bathroom

– Generously sized bedrooms with attached bathrooms and ample closet space

– New fixtures throughout and canned lighting

– New furnace and water heater

– Lots of natural light throughout home 12_image12_mls

– Private patio for BBQ, garden or whatever you desire

– 2 car garage attached to patio with private entrance to home

– Encinitas and San Dieguito Union High School Districts

– Located close to everything Encinitas offers – shopping, dining, parks, entertainment, schools, transportation and just moments to Encinitas and Cardiff beaches and downtown areas

Please contact listing broker for more information: Rachel LaMar, LaMar Real Estate 760-310-9466. CA BRE license #01399682. For more information please click here.

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Wonderful New Carlsbad Listing

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

Welcome to 3372 Avenida Nieve! Offered at $869,000

This beautiful and bright Sonata cul-du-sac street home comes complete with west-facing views to La Costa Valley and beyond. Vaulted ceilings, large, open granite kitchen with stainless Thermador cooktop, hardwood flooring in the living room/dining room combo, downstairs bedroom, fresh paint throughout, plantation shutters, nice private backyard and elegant, large master suite with adjoining sitting area, balcony and west facing views. 01_image01_mls

Talk about location! This home is ideally located close to shopping, dining, parks and entertainment. Highly rated San Dieguito School District, with all schools in close proximity – Mission Estancia Elementary, Diegueno Middle School and La Costa Canyon High School. All information is deemed reliable, but buyer and buyers’ agent to verify all, including square footage, prior to close of escrow.

Features Include: 04_image04_mls

  • 2592 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms
  • 16,000+ square foot lot
  • Espresso hardwood flooring in dining/living rooms
  • Large chef’s kitchen with island, granite counters
  • Thermador stainless cooktop in kitchen
  • Plantation shutters in all upstairs bedrooms
  • Downstairs bedroom and bathroom
  • Vaulted ceilings
  • Custom designer windows in living/dining room
  • Oversized master suite with sitting area, balcony and west-facing views to La Costa Valley and beyond
  • Spacious and private backyard with large flagstone area
  • Front porch 18_image18_mls
  • Cozy family room with fireplace
  • Lots of natural light throughout home
  • New custom paint throughout
  • Close to shopping, dining, parks, schools and entertainment
  • San Dieguito School District
  • Low HOA dues

For more photos, video and further information, please click here. To schedule a showing please call broker Rachel LaMar at 760-310-9466. MLS #150001504

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Real Estate Market Predictions for 2015

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

2014 was a positive year for the housing market, with many areas experiencing recovery and more houses selling than previous years. Prices rose quite a bit, and there was a lot of conflicting news about the future of housing. Now, as we head into 2015, many wonder what is in store for the housing market. Of course I do not have a crystal ball, but based on what I see in my local market here is what I think we will see as we head into the new year.

1. Price Increases Will Slow Down

Buyers were out in force on a pretty consistent level in 2014 here in North San Diego. We saw increased competition for listings, multiple offer situations, interest rates remained low, and prices jumped. Heading into the new year I believe prices will continue to rise, however in a much slower (think “normal”) manner. There are two factors that contribute to this: the exit of many investors from the market and lower inventory levels. According to Case-Schiller prices on a national level are near their spring 2005 levels; the 20 cities tracked by the real estate analytic giant are about 15% to 17% off their mid-summer 2006 peaks.

Zillow predicts prices will rise this year about 2.5%, while thinks the number will be closer to 4-5%. The California Association of Realtors predicts that single family home prices will appreciate 5.8% in 2015 – that is a lot less than the appreciation this year, which statewide climbed to almost 12% (obviously some areas were higher than others, like San Diego, Orange and Los Angeles counties, and parts of Northern California). Moving forward the market will likely follow a more “normal” growth pattern as predicted.  Homebuyer Pool will Increase

2014 saw quite a gain in the number of homebuyers – low rates and lower inventory levels had many people determined to purchase before prices jumped too high. Since the majority of investors have left the housing market (due to rising prices and the inability to get a great “deal,”) rates are still low and credit rules have eased, I expect we will continue to see an influx of ready, willing and able buyers to the market. These factors will lead to increased inventory levels, which means that more sellers will list their homes and be able to find replacement properties (one of the biggest challenges for sellers last year was that there was so little inventory that they had nowhere to move to if they sold).

3.  Affordability will Decrease

Along with more inventory and a stronger market, I think affordability will worsen. Just because housing market prices are rising does not mean that buyers’ income is rising in sync. With rising prices, even though the rise will be slower, buyers whose incomes remain the same will not be able to afford the homes they may wish to purchase. When mortgage rates start to rise that will add to the challenge. thinks that affordability will decrease 5-10% in 2015.

4. Mortgage Rates Will Rise

This is inevitable. Those who are sitting on the fence need to start looking now before rates rise and affordability decreases. Freddie Mac predicts a rise to a 4.5% interest rate this year, while others (like the Mortgage Bankers Association) predict rates will hit 5% by the end of the year.

Market stabilization should generate more inventory as we settle into calmer housing waters, as sellers realize the price frenzy is now over and there is no longer a need to wait and see if prices will continue to jump exponentially. Buyers who have been considering a home purchase will likely jump off the fence to do so before interest rates rise – which they will. The slowing down of price jumps could be a big benefit to the market as a whole, bringing us back to a much more “normal,” thus safer-feeling market.

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San Diego Calendar of Events for January 2015

Monday, December 29th, 2014

Happy New Year to all!


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Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 19th, 2014

I wanted to wish every one a very happy holiday season – whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or another holiday. I hope that you are able to take some time off and spend time with loved ones and friends, in order to appreciate what is most important in life. Xmas tree & menorahI will be taking time off this week to do the same!

2014-2015I wish you all a New Year filled with love, laughter, prosperity and good health. Thank you to all of those who have helped make 2014 a fantastic year in real estate. I love this business and value each and every one of my clients. I feel blessed to have such a great group of people with whom to work, and look forward to an amazing 2015!

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December is a Busy Month for Real Estate

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

It never fails – every year I always think I will have a quiet holiday season and be able to catch up on personal errands and have extra family time. But every November things always start to heat up in my real estate business. Offers on listings tend to increase (often multiple offers), there tend to be a flurry of showings, and buyers step out in force to see properties.2014-2015

I hear many real estate agents say that the end of the year is accompanied by a slow down in the real estate market, but I have not yet found that to be the case. Those agents who decide to not work as hard or to take a break miss out on the plethora of opportunities at this time of year. But for those who continue to work hard with existing clients, answer their phones and tap into their client base, this time of year can be lucrative.

Busy Time for Sellers

As for sellers, I have written blogs over the years as to why the holiday time is a great time to sell. The main reason is that there is not a lot of competition, so the buyers who are out there searching for homes (and believe me, there are many) don’t have as many options. If you list your home at this time and it is priced and shows well, you may be surprised at the amount of interest you get… and of course there is the potential for multiple offers. If you are a seller, make sure to speak with your agent about the best way to market and stage your home during the holidays, because that will have an impact on its selling potential.

The other reason it is a great time for sellers is because interest rates and inventory are still low. This makes it an optimal time for buyers who may have otherwise decided to wait until Spring.

Finally, it is fair to say that the majority of buyers who are out there looking at this time of year are very serious, not just looky-loo buyers. Many people would rather not focus on purchasing a home during the holidays, so as they say “the early bird gets the worm.”

Busy Time for Buyers

The end of the year/holiday season is a great time for buyers, for many of the same reason outlined above. There is less competition, the listings that are active are usually placed there by serious sellers who need to sell, and right now interest rates are still very low. In my opinion many properties are priced more accurately at this time of year than say in the Spring, when many sellers test out the market to see how high they may be able to list above comparable sold properties.

Buyers, sellers and agents can all benefit during the last quarter and during the holidays if they continue to work extra hard into the New Year. Happy buying and selling, and I hope everyone has a prosperous and happy holiday season!

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Is “Average” Good Enough for Most Real Estate Agents?

Thursday, December 4th, 2014
The average person puts only 25% of his energy and ability into his work. The world takes off its hat to those who put in more than 50% of their capacity, and stands on its head for those few and far between souls who devote 100%.” – Andrew Carnegie images
There is nothing wrong with being average – in fact, some people are quite content with the moniker – not fighting to break glass ceilings and striving to be “better,” however that may be defined. Societies rely on a mixture of those who are happy with “average” jobs and those who are not and need to achieve “more.”

I find the old adage that 20% of people do 80% of the work to be true in the real estate sales profession. The industry exemplifies the average/exceptional delineation: the average agent sells 4-6 homes a year (personally I think it’s probably more like 2-3), and makes $34,000-45,000. The main reason is most agents are part-timers, which means they have other jobs and consider real estate a second (or third) job, or even a hobby. They do not put in enough hours and dedication to make real estate a profession, for many because it is a tough thing to do and income is never consistent (except for those who are top producing agents).

To excel at any job one needs to put in sweat and time, and real estate is no exception. Those who spend years building relationships with clients will eventually benefit from referral business;  those who stick to their own proven way of doing business and work hard at it on a daily basis will see results, which will allow them to climb out of the average category. This is true in any profession. The question becomes”is average good enough for you?”

Many real estate agents and brokers lament over average agents and the problems that can accompany them – mostly issues related to ethics, not working hard enough or not being careful enough from a legal standpoint. After all, there are legal ramifications galore in this business, so one can ever be too careful, stop learning, or fail to stay on top of current laws and rules. I have written many blogs about the need for stricter rules and licensing standards in the industry, so I will not go into that here, but the irony is that if those things existed the profession would be treated more like a profession, and people would have to hold themselves to higher standards (brokers too would have to hold salespeople to higher standards).

So, are you average in your industry and want to get out of that rut? If so, you may want to ask yourself why you feel that way. If you are a person who strives to be above average but are not in that space, you should figure out how to excel. Evaluate your business, make a business plan, educate yourself further, reach out to all your clients and find a mentor. There is no need to be an average agent. On the other hand, if you are happy where you are then stay there, but make sure you do not ignore important issues like learning new rules, laws and forms. Either way, decide where you want to be and be the best you can be in that position.

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Housing Market Glance for October 2014 (Latest Figures)

Monday, December 1st, 2014

The chart below shows the latest existing home sale numbers for October, as well as median home prices, unsold inventory index, median time on market, and the housing affordability index. The National Association of Realtors reported a 2.5% increase for the homes sold in October, compared to the same month a year ago. This makes it the first month in 2014 to see a significant yearly increase in home sales.  The reasons for the increase were cited as lowering of mortgage interest rates (which dipped under 4% in October) and the slowing of home price appreciation.

Interestingly, several reports I have read indicate that housing prices are not going down, and that this trend will continue into 2015, with many states hitting new all-time highs as the housing recovery continues. Of course, much will depend on inventory levels, mortgage rates and other factors that we cannot predict, but the positive note is that properties are definitely going into escrow. Most escrow agents, home inspectors and appraisers I have spoken with are busy.



Chart provided by the California Association of Realtors.

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